PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The Virginia women’s basketball team (4-5) suffered a 73-63 loss at Rutgers (7-1) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Thursday (Dec. 5) at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.
Virginia trailed 21-9 at the end of the first quarter. The Cavaliers cut the gap to three points in the third quarter, but fell short of completing the comeback.
Senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.), playing 30 miles from her home town, scored 27 points with six rebounds. Freshman guard Shemera Williams (Milwuakee, Wisc.) scored 14 points with three assists in her collegiate debut. Arella Guirantes was one of four Rutgers players who finished the game in double figures, scoring 20 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Scarlet Knights got hot at the end of the first quarter, going 6-of-8 from the field during a 14-2 run in the period to build up a 21-7 lead. The Cavaliers began chipping away in the second quarter. Williams and Willoughby combined to score UVA’s first 12 points of the period, cutting the deficit in half, 28-21, with three minutes left in the half. UVA went into the break trailing by six, 37-31.
After Rutgers built back up a double-digit advantage, 49-38, Willoughby hit a three-pointer, followed by a steal by freshman Kylie Kornegay-Lucas (Camden, Del.) resulting in a jumper by freshman Carole Miller (Alexandria, Va.) to cut it back to a six-point deficit, 49-43, with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter. Kornegay-Lucas hit a corner three to make it a three-point game, 49-46, but Rutgers answered with four-straight points to end the run. In the fourth quarter, the two teams traded baskets with a jumper from Willoughby making it a five-point game, 60-55, with 5:12 remaining, but UVA went cold from the field, missing on four-straight possessions as Rutgers again built up a double-digit lead. Willoughby ended the field goal drought by hitting a pair of three-pointers in the final 51 seconds of the game, but the Scarlet Knights held on for the 10-point victory.
FROM HEAD COACH TINA THOMPSON
“We didn’t start the game the way we were supposed to, and that put us in a position that was really difficult to pull ourselves out of. For about 33 minutes of the game, we played a really, really solid game, but that first six or seven minutes kicked our butt. It was really difficult for us to pull ourselves out of that hole. I feel that if our focus were different when we started off, then we would have put ourselves in a better position to win.”
“I thought that Shemera [Williams] was solid. She has so much more in her. I said that in the very beginning. She was set back a bit by an injury, but she is slowly working her way back, and that is a big addition for us.”
- Shemera Williams made her collegiate debut, checking in with 2:57 remaining in the first quarter and scored her first collegiate points, making a pair of free throws with 27 seconds remaining in that period. She missed the first eight games of the season with a leg injury
- This was Willoughby’s third-straight 20-point game and her fourth of the year
- Willoughby was 8-of-17 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line
- Rutgers did not make a field goal for the final 2:54 of the game, but went 9-of-12 from the free throw line in that span
- Rutgers held a 33-32 advantage in rebounds
- Virginia shot 37.0 percent (20-of-54) while Rutgers was 24-of-49 (49.0 percent)
- Rutgers was 20-of-26 (76.9 percent) from the free throw line and Virginia was 15-of-23 (65.2 percent)
- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was the special guest coach at the game. First Lady Tammy Murphy, who was also a guest coach, graduated from the University of Virginia in 1987 with a bachelor of arts in communications and English
- The 2019 Challenge marks the 13th season of the event, which debuted in 2007. All 14 Big Ten teams and all ACC teams with the exception of Wake Forest are competing in games yesterday and today. The ACC trailed 5-0 after Wednesday’s contests
- Virginia is now 5-8 in Challenge games and has lost seven straight. UVA’s last win in the Challenge was a 90-68 at Minnesota in 2012
ON THE HORIZON
- Virginia heads into exam break before returning to action on Friday, Dec. 20 when it takes on UNLV (2-5) at the Duel in the Desert Tournament, being held at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada
- The Cavaliers’ next home game will be on Thursday, Jan. 2 when they host North Carolina at 7 p.m.
- Reserved single-game tickets are $8 if purchased in advance or online and $10 if purchased at the JPJ Box Office. General admission tickets are $5 if purchased in advance or online and $8 if purchased at the JPJ Box Office. Single-game courtside tickets may be purchased for $15
- For more information or to purchase tickets, fans should contact the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-542-UVA1 (8821). Fans can also purchase tickets online at VirginiaSports.com or in-person at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium