The Virginia women's basketball team has a shot at reaching the quarterfinals of a postseason tournament on Thursday -- even if it's not the bracket they were hoping for.
The Cavaliers will host Appalachian State at 7 p.m. Thursday in a third round game of the Women's NIT. With a win, Virginia will reach the WNIT quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.
"It's not what we wanted; we wanted to play in the NCAA," senior forward Chelsea Shine conceded on Wednesday. "But the NIT is the next-best thing. And winning any championship is hard, and means a lot to any program."
The Cavaliers hoped to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after finishing the regular season 21-9, and advancing to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. But their bubble was burst last week when they weren't selected for the 64-team field, and instead had to settle for the WNIT.
"It was a quick turnaround. We found out, and then I believe we had to play on Thursday," sophomore guard Ataira Franklin said. "So it was kind of like, take that night, soak it in; and then just get over it, because we still have a lot of games left to play."
The Cavaliers needed overtime to beat Howard 59-56 in last Thursday's opening round match-up. They followed that with a 68-55 win over Richmond in Round 2 on Monday.
"I think in the end we said we've got to control what we can control. And one of those things is we still get to be in postseason, we still get to play," said head coach Joanne Boyle, who won a WNIT title while coaching at California. "And I think, if anything, let's go out here and make a statement in this WNIT, and prove to people that we should have been in. And I think we're off to a good start."