China Crosby scored five points in the final minutes to help the Cavaliers hold on for a 52-48 victory over Virginia Tech Thursday night.
Virginia led by 13 points early in the second period, but Virginia Tech chipped away at the lead, coming back to tie the game, 39-39, with seven minutes remaining. The Hokies took their first lead of the game, 46-45, with 1:48 left in the game. Crosby drove to the hoop, converting an and-one with 53 seconds remaining to put the Cavaliers back up by two. She knocked down a pair of free throws with 26 seconds remaining to extend the lead and secure the victory.
“We are really excited to get our first ACC win,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “Virginia Tech played hard and when they got down, they didn’t quit. They came back and gave us a game.”
The Cavaliers opened the game on a 6-0 scoring run and a 6-1 rebounding run. UVa added to the lead by going on a 9-0 scoring run, holding the Hokies scoreless for over five minutes and extending its lead to 15-4 at the ten minute mark of the first half.
Virginia Tech, led by Uju Ugoka, pulled back to within single digits, 20-12, with just over three minutes left in the half. Kelsey Wolfe pulled up for a jumper after getting a feed from Ataira Franklin to push the lead back to ten. Ten seconds later, with the ball still in the back court, Franklin grabbed a steal, the Cavaliers’ sixth of the period, taking three steps towards the basket and laying in the ball to give UVa a 24-12 lead with 2:24 left in the period.
UVa went into the break with a 24-14 lead, outrebounding Virginia Tech 21-12 in the period.
Virginia had the ball to start the second half. Crosby banked in a three-pointer as the shot clock expired on the opening possession to give Virginia its largest lead of the game, 27-14, with 19:38 remaining.
After the two squads traded baskets and turnovers, Virginia Tech’s Ugoka and Monet Tellier combined to score nine straight points for the Hokies, pulling their team within four, 34-30,with 13 minutes remaining. Sarah Imovbioh ended the run, catching the ball in the low post, going up strong, drawing the foul and converting the two free throws to make it a 36-30 UVa lead with just under 12 minutes to play.
Imovbioh’s points stopped the scoring run, but not the comeback. Virginia Tech tied the game, 39-39, with 7:08 remaining in the game when Aerial Wilson drove through the lane and pulled up for a jumper two feet from the net.
Virginia scored four straight points on a pair of Crosby free throws and a layup by Franklin, taking a 43-39 lead with 5:32 left on the clock.
Leading by a point, 45-44, Virginia had possession of the ball, but a three-point attempt with the shot clock expiring hit off the backboard, with Virginia Tech getting the ball back on the shot clock violation. Tellier drew a foul on the opposite end, going to the line and making both free throws to give Virginia Tech its first and only lead of the game, 46-45, with 1:48 remaining.
After a missed field goal attempt by Virginia, the Hokies had the ball in their offensive zone when Simone
Egwu and Telia McCall trapped Ugoka, knocking the ball out of her hands. Egwu got the loose ball up ahead to Crosby who drove toward the hoop, getting a layup and drawing contact for a foul call. She went to the line and converted the free throw, giving Virginia a 48-46 lead with 54.3 seconds remaining.
“I was going to pull it out to run our offensive set, but Coach Boyle was waving her hand saying ‘just go’, so I went and tried to make a play,” Crosby said. “I’m really glad the shot went in, but I was really just trying to get to the free throw line and hit the free throws.”
After a Virginia Tech missed basket on the other end, Egwu battled for position and came up with rebound with 30 seconds left. She got the ball to Crosby again who was immediately fouled. Crosby went to line and made both free throws.
Virginia Tech put up a three-point attempt in its next possession with McCall outjumping the other players to grab the rebound after the shot was offline.
The Cavaliers held on for the victory to improve to 9-4 on the season and 1-1 in the ACC. Virginia Tech fell to 7-6 (1-1 ACC).
“There’s always positives that you can takes from wins and losses, and from this one it’s good to see that our team can grind and grind it out,” Boyle said. “China hit some big free throws and our post got some big rebounds. I’m glad we did that, but let’s try not to put ourselves in those situations if we don’t have to.”
Crosby led the Cavaliers with 16 points, going 5-for-9 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. She also had an assist and three steals.
Franklin scored 13 points with two assists and three steals. McCall had four points, nine rebounds, three steals and an assist.
Virginia heads south to face Miami (10-2, 1-0) on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 1 p.m.