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CHARLOTTESVILLE – The 20th-ranked Virginia women’s basketball team defeated Samford, 69-60, on the opening day of the Marriott Cavalier Classic at John Paul Jones Arena. UVa senior guard Monica Wright (Woodbridge, Va.) led all scorers with 28 points and added nine rebounds and six steals.

With the win, Virginia’s record improved to 8-3 on the year. The Cavaliers advance to the championship game of the Marriott Cavalier Classic for the 22nd time as they look to win their sixth-straight title. UVa’s opponent in the 7 p.m. championship game on Tuesday (Dec. 29) will be Liberty, as the Flames dispatched Cornell, 70-40, in the earlier game of the tournament.

Wright’s 28-point effort was her seventh 20+ point performance of the season and third in a row. In her last outing, Wright tallied her 2000th-career point and is now in third place on Virginia’s all-time scoring list with 2039 points. She is 19 points from tying Heather Burge’s second-ranking total, 2058 points.

Chelsea Shine (Wayne, Pa.) added 10 points for Virginia. While Simone Egwu (Odenton, Md.) had 10 points as well.

The Cavaliers took a 14-point lead in the first half with 5:09 remaining on a four-point play by Wright. She was fouled in the corner shooting a 3-pointer and converted the free throw to put UVa up, 32-18. From there, however, Virginia was out-scored 13-3 over the final five minutes of the half as Samford battled back to trail, 35-31, at halftime.

In the second half, Virginia held a comfortable lead until a 3-pointer by Bulldog guard Emily London with 3:27 left in the game pulled Samford to within three points, 63-60. Two free throws from Wright and two more by Ariana Moorer (Woodbridge, Va.) iced the game for the Cavaliers, while a China Crosby (New York, N.Y.) lay-up in the waning seconds made the final score 69-60.

Samford (8-5) was led by London with 18 points and Monica Maxwell with 14 points.

Crosby finished with nine points and four assists for UVa, while Moorer had a solid outing and finished with five points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

The Marriott Cavalier Classic concludes Tuesday (Dec. 29). The consolation game begins at 4:30 p.m. and features Samford vs. Cornell, while the championship game (UVa vs. Liberty) begins at 7 p.m.

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