Virginia Holds off North Carolina to Win 72-68
Feb. 25, 2016
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s basketball team (16-13, 6-9 ACC) held on for a 72-68 victory over North Carolina (14-16, 4-11 ACC) on Thursday (Feb. 25) in its final home game of the 2015-16 season.
After North Carolina cut an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit to two points with 11 seconds remaining, Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) capped off her Senior Day by racing down court to receive a long inbounds pass from sophomore Mikayla Venson (Arlington, Va.) and converting a wide-open layup to seal the game in the final seconds.
“I’m just happy to come out with a win,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “It was a really good fight by the team. We had even a shorter bench than usual, but there was a real fight about them. They stayed together the whole time and came out with a strong win.”
Venson led all players with 23 points, going 7-of-17 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Venson made three three-pointers, giving her 64 total threes on the season, which broke the previous Cavalier single-season mark set by Telisha Quarles in the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Randolph finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Stephanie Watts had a double-double for the Tar Heels, scoring 14 points with 10 rebounds. Destinee Walker led the team with 18 points.
Virginia was 15-of-16 from the free throw line (93.8 percent), including going 13-of-13 in the fourth quarter, while UNC went 12-of-21 (57.1 percent) from the line for the game and 3-of-5 in the final 10 minutes.
The Tar Heels rattled off an 8-0 run in the first quarter to put the Cavaliers in an early 10-4 hole. A three-pointer from redshirt sophomore J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) with 5:42 remaining in the half gave UVA a 22-21 lead. After UNC answered on the opposite end, the Cavaliers battled, grabbing a pair of offensive rebounds before sophomore Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) converted a jumper in the lane to put Virginia back up 27-26. A layup from Brown with 1:49 remaining in the half gave the Cavaliers a 29-26 advantage. The Tar Heels went the final 4:38 of the first half without scoring.
Venson and junior Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) each hit a pair of jumpers early in the third quarter to extend the Cavalier lead to 37-30. North Carolina went on a 10-0 run over the span of 2:16 in the third quarter to erase the deficit and take a 42-40 lead. Venson hit a three-pointer with 42 seconds remaining to give Virginia a 47-45 lead heading into the final period.
The Tar Heels started the final quarter with Watts hitting a jumper to tie the game for the seventh time. A jumper from Mason followed by an and-one from Randolph put the Cavaliers up five, 52-47. After UNC cut it to a two-point game, 54-52, Venson hit her record-breaking three-pointer. Brown followed with a pair of free throws to push the lead out to seven. Virginia’s largest lead in the quarter came on a Brown three-pointer with 3:58 remaining, giving the Cavaliers a 64-56 advantage, but the Tar Heels scored seven points in the span of 57 seconds to make it a one-point game, 64-63, with 2:42 remaining. Venson went to the line on back-to-back possessions, pushing the UVA advantage back out to five. After UNC hit a free throw, Randolph grabbed a key offensive rebound on Virginia’s next possession, kicking the ball back out to Venson who went back to the line, converting two more free throws to put UVA up 70-64 with 21 seconds remaining. After UNC’s Jamie Cherry made a layup, the Cavaliers turned the ball over and Cherry converted another layup to make it 70-68 with 11 seconds remaining. UNC attempted a desperation half-court shot after Randolph’s layup, but it was well short of the hoop.
The win was Virginia’s second against North Carolina in the last 21 meetings and the first since 2010.
North Carolina had a 45-40 edge in rebounding. Virginia shot 35.1 percent (26-of-74), while the Tar Heels were 26-of-57 (45.6 percent).
The Cavaliers have one game remaining on the regular-season schedule, playing at Virginia Tech on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., before heading next week to the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, being held March 2-6 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. The full bracket and first-round match-ups and game times will be released this Sunday evening.