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Nov. 19, 2013

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LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Virginia women’s basketball team (3-1) earned a 61-60 victory at Liberty (0-3) at the Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va.

After Liberty tied the game with 38.2 seconds remaining, Virginia senior guard Ataira Franklin (Bowie, Md.) drove baseline with the shot clock winding down, getting fouled in the process. After missing her first free throw, she made the second to give the Cavaliers a one-point edge with 11.3 seconds remaining.

A strong defensive stand on the opposite end kept Liberty from getting off a final shot and secured the victory for the Cavaliers.

“I am just excited to get out of here with the win,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “This was really a barn-burner. I am happy that the team down the stretch made up for missed boxed-outs and such. I was really proud of our defense early in the game. They were a little tired at the end, but I thought we really forced Liberty into making a lot of mistakes.”

Virginia forced seven turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game, scoring nine of its first 11 points off those turnovers. The Cavaliers finished the game with 20 steals, including five from senior Lexie Gerson (Fort Washington, Pa.), with the Flames committing 30 turnovers.

Liberty used its size-advantage to outrebound the Cavaliers, 52-35.

Junior Sarah Imovbioh (Abuja, Nigeria) posted a double-double for the third-straight game, finishing with 10 points and 13 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Freshman Sydney Umeri (Acworth, Ga.) finished the game with a career-high 12 points, including scoring eight-straight Cavalier points in the first half.

Liberty’s Ashley Rininger had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Mickayla Sanders scored a game-high 16 points.

Virginia led by 10 points in the second half, but saw the gap narrowed to one, 48-47, with 8:21 remaining. The Cavaliers grabbed steals, two by Franklin and one from Gerson, on three-straight Liberty possessions to fuel a 10-2 run to create some breathing room and a 58-49 lead with 5:10 remaining.

Liberty narrowed the gap to three, 60-57 on a runner from Sadalia Ellis with 1:57 left. The Flames went to the line with 1:15 remaining, missed both free throws, but came up with the rebound. After another Virginia foul, Liberty went to the line for a one-and-one, missing the first but again getting the rebound and the foul call. Ellis went to the line and made both free throws to again make it a one-point game with 1:07 remaining.

With 38.2 seconds, Liberty again went to the line, making the second of the two free throws to tie the game.

Virginia shot 31.8 percent in the game, going 21-of-66. The Cavaliers made 8-of-30 attempts in the second half. Liberty shot 35.7 percent (21-of-56) overall and 40.7 percent (11-of-27) in the second half.

Virginia will be back in action on Sunday, Nov. 24 when they travel to Morgantown, W.V., to face West Virginia (3-1) at 4 p.m.

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