LAS VEGAS – The Virginia women’s basketball team (5-6) suffered a 72-59 loss to No. 15 Mississippi State (11-2) on Saturday (Dec. 21) in the championship game of the Duel in the Desert tournament, being held at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mississippi State built up a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers came back to tie the game, 26-26, in the second quarter. Mississippi State answered with a 14-2 run to take a 40-30 advantage into halftime. The Bulldogs outscored the Cavaliers 19-10 in the fourth quarter to build up a 23-point lead. Virginia rallied in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 10 points with 2:39 remaining, but could not get any closer.
Senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) led all scorers with a 21-point performance. Freshman guard Kylie Kornegay-Lucas (Camden, Del.) had a team-high seven rebounds. Rickea Jackson was one of four Bulldogs to finish in double figures, finishing with a team-high 17 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Mississippi State went 5-of-8 from beyond the arc to start the game and build up a 20-9 advantage in the first quarter. Back-to-back layups from senior forward Lisa Jablonowski (Ernster, Luxembourg) and redshirt freshman guard Amandine Toi (Paris, France) to start the second quarter began chipping away at the deficit. Toi hit a three-pointer, followed by a jumper from Willoughby to make it a one-point game, 24-23. A three-pointer from Willoughby with 5:54 remaining in the quarter completed the comeback, knotting the game at 26. The Bulldogs scored 10 straight points to build back up a double-digit advantage. Willoughby temporarily halted the run, hitting a jumper with 2:02 left in the half, but MSU hit a pair of free throws and then made a jumper to take a 40-28 lead. A pair of free throws in the final 15 seconds of the period from Jablonowski made it a 40-30 deficit at halftime.
Mississippi State went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter, building up a 57-34 lead with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter. Back-to-back baskets from Willoughby halted the run. Trailing by 20 points in the fourth quarter, UVA once again rallied, with a jumper from redshirt sophomore forward Dani Lawson (Cleveland, Ohio) igniting an 11-1 run that made it a 10-point game, 66-56, with 2:39 remaining, but the Cavaliers missed their last five field goal attempts and couldn’t cut further into the deficit.
FROM HEAD COACH TINA THOMPSON
“I thought we played well. We played hard and we played tough. We had lulls where we just couldn’t make shots, and they were making their shots on the opposite end. If we can’t make shots, we definitely need to get stops and can’t allow them to continue to do the things that they do well. Our fourth-quarter rally was sparked by our defensive effort, but it was also the fact that we were able to make shots. We got to the line. We got a couple of and-ones, and we were able to get points on the board. ”
- Jocelyn Willoughby was named to the All-Tournament Team
- Willoughby’s 21 points was her fifth 20-point game of the year
- Virginia had three players finish in double-figures with Dominique Toussaint scoring 11 points and Lisa Jablonowski finishing with 10
- Toussaint scored seven of her 11 points in the first quarter. Toussaint and Willoughby were the only Cavaliers to score in the first quarter
- Jablonowski scored in double digits in both games of the tournament
- Virginia was 21-of-54 shooting (38.9 percent). Mississippi State shot 43.5 percent (27-of-62)
- Mississippi State held a 39-33 edge in rebounding
- Mississippi State went 5-of-8 from three-point range in the first quarter, but was 1-of-11 for the final three quarters
ON THE HORIZON
- The Cavaliers will take a short break for Christmas before returning to the court and diving in to conference play at Georgia Tech on Sunday, Dec. 29, when the Cavaliers face the Yellow Jackets at 2 p.m.
- Virginia returns home to host North Carolina on Thursday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. on Star Wars Night. Fans attending the game will receive a free orange glow stick (while supplies last) and are encouraged to wear Star Wars costumes. Star Wars trivia and other contests will happen throughout the game
- 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