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Dec. 20, 2013

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Virginia women’s basketball team (4-6) fell 79-72 in overtime to Tulane (6-3) in the opening game of the FGCU Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.

The Cavaliers trailed by 20 points in the first half, coming back to tie the game with 17:07 left in regulation. After trailing by eight with 6:14 remaining, the Cavaliers again came back, holding a one-point lead, 65-64, with 19 seconds remaining. Tulane hit a free throw with 6.1 seconds remaining to tie the game.

Tulane scored the first six points of the overtime period, outscoring the Cavaliers 14-7 in the extra five minutes.

“I give a lot of credit to Tulane,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “We got down early, which forced us out of the zone. We tried to play some man-to-man. We just need to mature as a team down the stretch. I think that is our problem. Free throw box-outs, limiting second-chance points and things that are under our control really cost us tonight.”

Redshirt-senior guard Lexie Gerson (Fort Washington, Pa.) scored 18 points, including scoring 13 during Virginia’s first comeback, going 4-of-5 from three-point range. Junior center Sarah Imovbioh (Abuja, Nigeria) had her fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Ataira Franklin (Bowie, Md.) had a team-high 22 points with four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Tulane had two 20-point scorers, both of whom posted double-doubles with Adesuwa Ebomwonyi scoring 20 points; 11 of those coming from the free throw line, and 11 rebounds and Danielle Blagg with 25 points, including making seven three-pointers, with 10 rebounds.

Tulane began the game making seven of its first 11 three-point attempts, with Blagg making five of her first seven, holding a 20-point lead, 37-17, with just over two minutes left in the first half. Gerson went on a personal 11-2 run in the final two minutes of the half, making three three-pointers in the final 1:19 of the period, to cut the deficit to 39-28 at the break.

Gerson opened the second half with a pull-up jumper, the start of an 8-0 UVa run to begin the half that cut the Tulane lead to 39-36 with 17:54 remaining. The Cavaliers tied the game, 41-41, on a three-pointer from senior guard Kelsey Wolfe (Germantown, Md.) with 17:07 remaining. An and-one from Franklin gave the Cavaliers their first lead of the game, 44-41, with 16:38 remaining.

The Virginia rally coincided with Tulane going ice cold from the field. The Green Wave only made one field goal in the final five minutes of the first half and started the second half going 0-for-8 from the field, not making a basket in the first 6:30 of the latter period when Blagg hit a three-pointer to retie the game.

After a pair of ties and lead changes, Tulane regained the lead, going on a 10-0 run to take a 56-46 lead with a layup from Franklin ending the run with 8:32 remaining.

The Cavaliers pulled to with two, 62-60, with 1:41 remaining on back-to-back layups from sophomore guard Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) and Franklin. After Tulane got a pair of free throws, Wolfe drove the lane, converting an and-one to make it a 64-63 game with 1:26.

The Cavaliers had possession with 1:04 remaining, but turned the ball over as Wolfe was called for an offensive foul while driving through the lane. Virginia got another opportunity with Gerson getting a steal, setting up a layup by Imovbioh that gave Virginia a 65-64 lead with 19.9 seconds remaining.

Tulane missed a shot with 9.9 seconds remaining. Redshirt freshman guard Raeshaun Gaffney (Fairfield, Ohio) got the rebound, but was tied up with possession going back to Tulane. The Green Wave’s Tierra Jones was fouled with 6.1 seconds remaining, sending her to the line. She missed the first free throw, but made the second, tying the game.

The Cavaliers could not get off a good shot before time expired, sending the game to overtime.

Virginia committed 34 fouls in the game with four different Cavaliers fouling out. Tulane had 22 fouls with one player fouling out. Tulane made 31-of-45 free throw attempts (68.9 percent) while Virginia went 13-of-21 from the stripe (61.9 percent).

Tulane outrebounded Virginia 44-41.

The tournament concludes on Saturday, Dec. 21 when Virginia will face host-school Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live online on ESPN3 as well as airing locally on the radio on WINA 1070-AM.

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