The Virginia women’s basketball team improved to 3-0 with a 61-42 victory over Providence Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena.
The Cavalier defense kept Providence off the scoreboard for the first 5:38 of the game, with the Friars going 0-for-7 from the field in addition to turning the ball over seven times in that span. It would be the first of two separate five-and-a-half minute scoring droughts for the Friars in the game.
Virginia, on the opposite end of the court, pounded the ball inside, opening the gamewith a 20-5 lead, scoring 14 of those points in the paint.
Providence gained some momentum, making a pair of three-pointers, with the second falling with 3:34 left in the first half, narrowing the gap to 24-13. After a UVa time out, Kelsey Wolfe drained a three-pointer from the right corner to temporarily ending the Friars’ run. Providence nailed a three-pointer followed by a two-pointer from just inside the arc to cut the deficit to single digits, 27-18 with just under two minutes to play before the break. Ataira Franklin hit a turnaround jumper from two feet in front of the hoop to extend the lead back out to 11, 29-18, with just under a minute left in the half.
After playing tight defense on Providence’s final possession, Virginia went into the break with that same 29-18 advantage.
Wolfe made a quick basket for Virginia to start the second half before the Cavaliers missed their next six attempts, with Providence converting offensive opportunities to make it a 31-23 game. Telia McCall ended the UVa cold streak, getting fouled on a made put-back, converting the and-one to put Virginia up 34-23 with just under 16 minutes left to play. Franklin also battled for a put-back layup, getting fouled in the process to push it back out to 37-23. Sarah Imovbioh made it three straight and-ones for the Cavaliers, battling down low for a board and a putback, knocking down her free throw to put UVa up by 17.
The Cavaliers added another bucket to make it an 11-0 run, holding the Friars scoreless for 5:27. Providence finally ending the drought after having a player miss her first free throw of a one-and-one opportunity. The Friars' Tori Rule scooped up the rebound and scored a layup, making it a 42-25 game with 12:25 remaining.
Imovbioh hit the double digit scoring mark with 5:46 to play. Imovioh got fouled as she tried for another layup right under the hoop. She made both free throws, her 10th and 11th points of the game, extending the lead out to 53-30.
The Cavaliers held on for the victory to start the season 3-0 for the second season in a row. Boyle, in her first year with the Cavaliers, led the team to a 4-0 start last year. This is just the sixth time in the last 16 years that a Virginia team has started the season 3-0.
“We’re happy to be 3-0 at this point in the season,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “We started out in a zone. For the first 12 minutes they only had four points. Then they went on a little bit of a run the last seven or eight minutes, but really we just took possessions off. We just need to become a team that can dictate for forty minutes.”
Imovbioh had her second double double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds, going 7-for-9 from the free throw line. Limited by picking up two quick fouls in the first half, Imovbioh only had two points and two rebounds going into the break.
“I started off with two early fouls, so I had to settle down and watch the way I play,” Imovbioh said. “But I think I came out stronger in the second half and I knew my teammates needed me, especially on the boards.”
Franklin scored 14 points, her third consecutive double-digit scoring effort.
Wolfe was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field for seven points and five rebounds before leaving the game in the second half after getting hit in the face and sustaining a dental injury.
The Cavaliers will travel to Puerto Rico Thanksgiving week to play in the San Juan Shootout, taking on No. 13/16 Vanderbilt on Friday, Nov. 23 and Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 24. They will return home on Sunday, Dec. 1, hosting No. 14/19 West Virginia.