Women's Basketball: Senior Reflections
Sunday will be the final regular-season home game for the four Cavalier seniors on the women’s basketball team: Lyndra Littles, Kristen London, Britnee Millner and Aisha Mohammed.
Virginia hosts Boston College at John Paul Jones Arena at 5 p.m. in what will be a key Atlantic Coast Conference match-up as the regular season winds down and postseason seeds are at stake.
As a group, the Cavalier seniors have won more than 80 games, played in one NCAA Tournament and have been a mainstay in the national rankings for the past 17 weeks.
Collectively, their goal is a national championship and their individual strengths could get Virginia to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in their careers.
Littles, a Washington, D.C., native has been a core of the starting line-up for coach Debbie Ryan’s squad for four years. A 1,000-point scorer, she has grabbed more than 800 rebounds during her career and is likely an early WNBA draft pick. After missing nine games this year for academic reasons, Littles is now the second-leading scorer on the team (20.6 points per game) and has been the team’s high scorer on eight different occasions.
“Being a senior, I have just been trying to take all the moments in,” Littles said. “I’ve been here four years, and I’m ready for the next chapter of my life, but at the same time I want to cherish the rest of my time here.”
London joined the Cavaliers for the 2007-08 season after starring for Seminole State College in Oklahoma for two years. A Decatur, Ga., native, she has found her stride during her senior season and has increased her productivity as well as her minutes. Highlighted by a career-high 15 points in February against Longwood, London has come on strong in the second half of the season and is peaking at the right time for the Cavaliers.
“I have a lot of memories, but the one that has touched me thus far was my 3-pointer against Maryland,” London said. “It’s crazy because I’m 22, and I’ve been playing basketball forever, but that was the moment right there. Nobody ever knew my number or knew I existed, and I got to hit that shot and look into the stands and I saw my little sister cheering her head off in the stands.”
Millner has started 24 of the Cavaliers’ 26 games this season and is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and assists. A four-year letterwinner out of Martinsville, Va., Millner has improved each year within the program. Two free throws by the senior in Knoxville, Tenn., earlier this season gave the Cavaliers’ one of their more memorable wins in recent history an 83-82 victory over then-No. 5 Tennessee.
“It’s probably the top moment in my life so far,” Millner said. “To go there and face a Pat Summitt-coached team and win was a dream come true.”
Mohammed, whose career prior to Virginia included a spot on the Nigerian Olympic Team in 2004 and first team All-America honors at Central Arizona College in 2006, is the only player to average a double-double in the ACC this year. A native of Lagos, Nigeria, Mohammed was an honorable mention All-ACC selection a year ago and is another one of the Cavaliers’ top WNBA prospects.
“The best thing about playing basketball at Virginia is that we are like a family,” Mohammed said. “If I have a problem, I feel like I have a family that has my back. So I feel like I am at home, even though I am not.”
Virginia has four games remaining on its regular-season schedule, and the four seniors will look to the lead the Cavaliers to their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
In addition to celebrating Senior Night on Sunday, it is also is Fan Appreciation Night at John Paul Jones Arena. Throughout the game, fans will be selected to receive various Nike prizes courtesy of the women’s basketball team. This night provides the opportunity to thank all of the fans that support the women’s basketball program throughout the year.