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Dec. 28, 2012

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s basketball team advanced to the championship game of the Cavalier Classic presented by Holiday Inn University Area with a 66-23 victory over Norfolk State.

The Cavalier defense allowed Norfolk State to score just six points in the first half. Virginia forced 13 first-half turnovers and held the Spartans to 11.5 percent shooting (3-for-26) in the period. Virginia outscored the Spartans 34-17 in the second half.

Norfolk State’s 23 points was the second lowest point total by an opponent in the history of the Virginia program and the fewest since UVa defeated Mary Washington, 41-19, on Dec. 2, 1975. It was also the first time since that same season that Virginia held an opponent to scoring under 30 points.

On the offensive end, the Cavaliers used a pair of 15-0 runs, one in the first half and one in the second, to secure the victory and improve to 7-4 on the season and advance to the tournament final.

“We are excited about the win,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “It is good coming off the break to try to win a tournament. Norfolk State was sitting in a 2-3 zone all night. We needed to be able to take care of the ball and we did a much better job of that tonight.”

The Cavaliers lead 10-4 when Ataira Franklin (Jr., Bowie, Md.) drained a three-pointer from the corner with 11:27 left in the first period to ignite the offense. After adding a layup, Franklin teamed up with China Crosby (Sr., New York, N.Y.) to trap the ball in the backcourt, grabbing a steal and dishing the ball to Faith Randolph(Fr., Derwood, Md.) waiting under the hoop to convert the layup. Randolph showed tenacity of her own, grabbing steals in back-to-back possessions, the second leading to another Franklin three to extend the run. Crosby extended the run to 15-0 by draining a three-pointer, taking the shot after strong passing around the top of the key got Crosby wide open on the left side, giving the Cavaliers a 25-4 lead with just over eight minutes left in the period.

Norfolk’s Quineshia Leonard made a layup with seven minutes left in the half to end the run. It was the last basket the Spartans scored in the half. Virginia went into the break with a 32-6 lead.

Norfolk State scored the first five points of the second half, with a pair of jumpers and a made free throw. Simone Egwu(Sr., Odenton, Md.) ended the run, grabbing an offensive rebound after a missed jumper, getting the put-back to make it a 34-11 game with just over 17 minutes remaining in the game.

Egwu’s points started the second half’s 15-0 run that included Crosby’s second three-pointer of the game and was capped by a feed from Egwu across the key to Jaryn Garner(Fr., Sewell, N.J.) who scored the layup to extend the lead to 47-11 with just over 12 minutes to play.

The Cavaliers had three players end the game scoring in double figures. Egwu had a perfect night shooting, going 4-for-4 from the floor and 8-for-8 from the free throw line to lead the team with 16 points.

Franklin scored 12 points with five assists and two steals and a blocked shot.

“This is definitely the healthiest I’ve been in a while,” Franklin said. “I just felt like I was able to move better on defense. We got a lot more tips and steals from our press, and I think a lot of that has to do with me being more active up top. Hopefully we’ll ride this out and I’ll feel like this every game. “

Sarah Imovbioh(Fr., Abuja, Nigeria), the third player in double figures, scored 12 points with six rebounds.

Telia McCall(Sr., Marietta, Ga.) had her third straight game with double-digit rebounds, pulling in 14. She just missed a double double with 9 points. She also had three assists.

Crosby scored six points with three assists, four steals, and three rebounds.

The Cavaliers will take on Xavier (6-6) on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones arena, playing for the tournament title. In the first game of the tournament, Xavier defeated Northern Illinois, 66-54, to earn its spot in the final. Xavier’s Shatyra Hawkes scored a game-high 19 points. Northern Illinois’ Jenna Thorp had a game-high eight rebounds.

Norfolk State (2-9) will face Northern Illinois (4-7) in the consolation final at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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