In late November, the Virginia women's basketball team gave Joanne Boyle a signature win much earlier in her first year at the helm than most might have expected. The Cavaliers, still clearly adjusting to their new team makeup, downed then-#3 Tennessee 69-64 in overtime. Suddenly things looked promising for a program dealing with its first coaching change in more than three decades.
Unfortunately, that wasn't a trend that would continue. Since then, Virginia has faced six ranked opponents - including #24 Georgia Tech this past Thursday - and they have lost all six games. The Cavaliers are 14-1 against unranked opponents and 1-6 against teams in the top 25. The margin of loss in those six games? From most recent to earliest: 10, 3, 7, 5 (2OT), 11, 26. In only one game - that 26 point loss to Texas in Hawaii - was Virginia actually out of the contest before the final minutes. That reads like a team that just barely can't get over the hump.
This past Thursday, the Cavaliers had their third road game of the season against a ranked team. They traveled to Atlanta to face the Yellow Jackets (or, more accurately, they traveled to Duluth, since Georgia Tech is without a permanent home this season while their new arena is being built) and came away with a 63-53 loss at the hands of the Rambling Wreck.
The story of that game - in much the same way as free throws were the story in the loss to #11 Miami - was rebounding. The Yellow Jackets out-rebounded the Cavaliers by an astonishing 48-28 margin. Where it looks especially ugly, however, is on Virginia's defensive glass. The 'Hoos pulled down 16 defensive rebounds... while the Jackets snagged 20 offensive boards. It's not too often that a team loses the rebounding battle just on its defensive end. It's also not too often that a team can win when putting themselves in that situation.
Senior Ariana Moorer was the lone Cavalier in double figures with 14 points. Telia McCall, Ataira Franklin and Lexie Gerson each added eight points. Simone Egwu added seven points while Chelsea Shine and Jazmin Pitts each tallied four to round out the scoring.
Virginia's defense was once again a strong point in this game. Only #5 Duke has held the Yellow Jackets to fewer points during ACC play (The Blue Devils won that contest 79-62). Georgia Tech also had 20 turnovers, in large part due to 12 steals on the part of the Cavaliers.
Virginia (15-7, 3-5 ACC) returns home on Sunday to host Florida State (11-10, 3-4 ACC) with a 3:30pm tip-off. Hopefully the Cavaliers can continue their streak of taking down un-ranked ACC foes and get back on the winning side of the ledger.