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Virginia women’s basketball opens NCAA tournament play with a 68-62 win over Cal

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The Hoos will now play the winner of South Carolina and North Carolina A&T

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Texas A&M vs Providence Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia women’s basketball hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2010, but they didn’t let that affect them as they came out in opening round action and knocked off 7-seed California, 68-62. Felicia Aiyeotan was outstanding, going 8-for-11 from the floor for 16 points, well above her season average of seven.

Joanne Boyle’s squad had five players in double digits led by Aiyeotan, who also added six rebounds.

The Hoos trailed by one at the end of both the first quarter (18-17) and halftime (31-30), but outscored the Golden Bears 12-6 in the third quarter to give themselves a bit of a cushion in the second half.

Cal, who was without their leading scorer, was led by freshman Kianna Smith with 20 points. The Golden Bears shot 45% from the field and 41% from three for the game.

Virginia got 20 points off the bench (compared to just two for Cal), and the Hoos went 39% from the field and 37% from three in the game. The Hoos took care of the ball, turning over just six times while Cal had 15. Virginia also shot well from the line, going 9-for-10 in the game.

Things were close throughout, with neither team leading by more than seven points in the game.

With 1:08 left and the score knotted at 57, Dominque Toussaint (10 points) pulled up from beyond the arc and buried a three, giving the Hoos the three point lead. Cal answered with a two-pointer, but great ball movement by Lauren Moses found Aiyeotan open under the basket for an easy layup and the 62-59 lead.

Willoughby went a perfect 6-for-6 from the line down the stretch, giving the Hoos the win despite a three-pointer by Cal with just under seven seconds left to pull within four.

Next up, Virginia will play the winner of 2-seed South Carolina and 15-seed North Carolina A&T.