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CHARLOTTESVILLE – The Virginia women’s basketball team built an early lead and held on for a 69-56 victory over visiting Morgan State Thursday night in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

With the victory, Virginia’s record improved to 17-15. Morgan State’s final record is 17-15.

Virginia will face Loyola (Md.) on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., at Reitz Arena in Baltimore, Md., in second-round action.

In the first half, Virginia’s lead at times ballooned to as many as 16 points, but Morgan State pulled to within 11 points, 38-27, at the 1:34 mark on a 3-pointer by Brittany Dodson. UVa responded by going on a 5-0 run to end the half and take a 43-27 lead.

In the second half, UVa took its largest lead with 10:21 left, 63-37. The Lady Bears ended the game on a 19-6 run and the final score was 69-56.

Junior guard Whitny Edwards (Charlotte, N.C.) finished as the Cavaliers’ leading scorer with 11 points and seven rebounds. Junior Ariana Moorer (Woodbridge, Va.) added 10 points, three assists and four rebounds.

The Cavaliers out-rebounded the Lady Bears, 51-27, and held a 28-12 advantage in points in the paint.

Morgan State was led by Dodson’s 18 points. Jamie Smith added 12 points.

Virginia improved to 6-4 all-time in WNIT games and 12-5 at John Paul Jones Arena this season.

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