On Friday, I discussed what the Virginia Women's Basketball team needed to do in its final two ACC games in order to solidify its position for an NCAA tournament bid. The home contest against Wake Forest was basically a must-win and the away game against Florida State was just about the same.
Let's just put it this way: The ladies took care of business.
With its wins over both teams this weekend, the Cavaliers finished the regular season tied with North Carolina for fifth place in the ACC at 9-7. Because the Tar Heels swept Virginia during the season, they get the tie-breaker and the fifth seed. The 'Hoos claim the sixth seed and will face 11th seed Boston College in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Thursday in Greensboro. The Cavaliers and Eagles tangled once during the regular season, with Virginia pulling out a 69-58 victory at JPJ.
Check back after the break for a few more details on the Wake and FSU games.
On Friday, the Cavaliers hosted Wake Forest in a match that was pivotal both for Virginia's ACC Tournament seed and their possible NCAA Tournament bid.
I can honestly say that the first half went almost as poorly as anyone could have feared. The 'Hoos shot 28.6% from the field, made only 7 of 12 free throws and trailed the Demon Deacons 33-25 at intermission. About the only highlight in the first half was Chelsea Shine notching her 1000th career point. She entered the game needing only one point to reach that mark, but it took her until there were less than three minutes left in the half to tally her first field goal of the night.
The second half was another story altogether. Virginia came out playing stifling defense, holding the visitors to only seven points in the first eleven minutes of the half. The offense came alive too, as they scored fifteen points during that same stretch to even the game at 40 with 9:06 to play. For those keeping track, that means Virginia outscored Wake 15-7 during that stretch.
But they didn't stop there. Over the next five minutes, the 'Hoos would outscore their guests 17-6 to put the game out of reach. While the Deacs tried to mount a comeback, getting within 6 points at one point, the Cavaliers were in control for the rest of the game.
When the final buzzer sounded, Virginia had three players in double figures: Ataira Franklin (17), Lexie Gerson (15) and Ariana Moorer (15). Chelsea Douglas scored a game-high 19 points for the Demon Deacons, but she basically had no help otherwise. No other player scored in double figures.
There wasn't really any time for celebration, though, as the Cavaliers had less than 48 hours before their final regular season contest with Florida State - and they had to get to Tallahassee too.
Thankfully, the game with the Seminoles went a little bit more smoothly. They shot 48.1% in the first half and held a 37-31 lead at the break. While FSU did manage to make it close in the second half - tying the game at 51 with 6:37 left in the game - they were never able to take the lead. In fact, the Cavaliers outscored the 'Noles 11-0 over the next two and a half minutes to take an eleven point lead and coast to a 66-57 victory.
Ariana Moorer, playing in her final regular season game as a Cavalier, led the 'Hoos with 2 points. Three other players joined her in double figures: Kelsey Wolfe (11), Ataira Franklin (10) and Lexie Gerson (10). Cierra Bravard led all scorers with 24 points, but she only had two teammates in double figures with her: Alexa Deluzio (13) and Natasha Howard (10).
Moorer was clearly the story of the game. Her final stat-line (23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers) is impressive. She also played all forty minutes, the only player on the floor to do that. And just for dramatic effect, she notched a technical foul in the second half, though I'm not sure for what - the call came immediately after she made a layup, so perhaps there was some talking going on.
With the two wins under their belt, the Cavaliers sit at 21-9, 9-7 in the ACC. If I had to guess, I would say that there is very little chance Virginia is not in the NCAA Tournament. But just for good measure, it'd be nice to get one more win in the ACC Tournament.
The 'Hoos take to the floor on Thursday at 8pm against Boston College. If they win, like they did during the regular season, they will face the third seeded Maryland on Friday night at 8pm. Maryland won both games against Virginia during the regular season, so that will be a tough match up. But you can bet Coach Boyle will have the ladies ready.