The Virginia women's basketball team could not hold on to a halftime lead, falling to No. 3 Tennessee, 76-67, in the opening game of the Junkanoo Jam Tournament on Grand Bahama Island on Thanksgiving Day. The loss dropped Virginia to 3-3 on the year.
"I'm really proud of the kids and I thought they really fought hard," said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. "We had four or five goals as a team for today, and they got almost every one. When we came out in the second half, it took us three or four minutes to get going. Tennessee is a team that just ramps it up, so they took advantage. We had to try to play catch-up a little bit. You have to play almost a perfect game against them, and I thought we did a good job, but there were little things like missed free throws that hurt us."
Senior guard Ataira Franklin scored 25 points, including 19 in the first half, that helped the Cavaliers lead by as many as 10 points and hold a 39-35 advantage at the break.
Tennessee then scored the first five points of the second half to take its first lead of the game, 40-39.
The Cavaliers and Lady Vols traded points with three lead changes and two ties early in the second half until an and-one by Bashaara Graves started a 10-0 run that put Tennessee up 57-47 with 12:11 remaining. Tennessee finished the second half outscoring UVa 41-28.
Franklin had six assists in addition to her 25 points, also pulling in three rebounds and recording a steal. It was her second-straight game eclipsing the 20-point mark after scoring 23 at West Virginia. Sophomore guard Faith Randolph had 16 points with five rebounds, an assist and two steals.
Despite the Volunteers' size advantage with six of their 10 players 6-2 or taller, Virginia trailed by only a single rebound, losing the battle of the boards 36-35.
The Cavaliers will play in the consolation final of the tournament on Friday, Nov. 30 at 5:45 p.m., facing the loser of the Southern Methodist/ Kansas State game.
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