The Virginia women’s basketball team won the team title at the Cavalier Classic presented by Holiday Inn University Area with a 54-45 victory over Xavier. The Cavaliers’ Telia McCall was named the MVP of the Tournament.
Virginia held a 14-point lead with over six minutes remaining in the first half, but a four minute drought without a field goal at the end of the first half and four additional minutes without a bucket to start the second half allowed Xavier to get back into the game. The Musketeers came within a point, 28-27, early in the second half, but never led in the contest.
Virginia began the game playing an aggressive, trapping defense, forcing 10 first-half Musketeer turnovers and holding Xavier to making just four of its first 24 shot attempts.
The Cavaliers’ defense fueled the offense, including a steal by Sarah Imovbioh that lead to a three-pointer by Kelsey Wolfe to give Virginia an early 13-4 lead. A three-pointer from the top of the arc from McCall pushed the lead to double digits, 19-7, with 8:29 left in the half. The Cavaliers’ third three-pointer of the period, a rainbow arching shot from China Crosby extended the lead out to 14, 24-10, with 6:30 remaining before the break.
Virginia’s outside shooting cooled off, with multiple three-point attempts clanging off the rim. Xavier, on the other end, finished the half making five of their final 10 field goal attempts, mounting a 13-2 run to pull within three points, 26-23, when Ashley Wanninger drained a fast-break three with 50 seconds left on the clock.
Faith Randolph was fouled on a three-point attempt with 18 seconds left in the first half. She made two of her free throws to send the Cavaliers into halftime with a 28-23 lead.
Xavier scored the first four points of the second half, extending its run to 17-4 and pulling within one point,28-27, just over two minutes into the second half.
The Cavaliers ended their field goal drought on a layup by Imovbioh with 15:54 left in the game. Imovbioh, who was fouled on the shot, converted the free throw to give Virginia a 31-27 advantage.
The Cavaliers pushed the lead back out to eight, 37-29, when Crosby grabbed a steal, raced down court and passed the ball through the crowded key to Wolfe on the other side who pulled up for a jumper with just over 13 minutes left in the game.
Wolfe’s second three-pointer of the game, which she made with 4:36 on the clock, pushed the lead back out to double digits, 50-40.
After a Virginia turnover, Xavier took a jump shot on the opposite end, missing the shot, but grabbing the offensive rebound. They took a three-pointer, also off the mark, but Jessia Pachko grabbed the O-board, getting a put-back and drawing a foul. She converted the and-one to make it 50-47. After a Virginia foul and two Xavier free throws, it was back down to a five-point game, 50-45 with just under three minutes to play.
The two teams traded misses before Ataira Franklin was fouled on a free throw line pull-up attempt. She made both free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 52-45 lead with 1:48 left on the clock.
On Xavier’s next possession, McCall muscled her way to a steal, leading to a Franklin layup that gave Virginia a 54-45 lead with 43 seconds left on the clock. Xavier took a shot with 32 seconds left, but it was off the mark. Imovbioh battled for the rebound, coming up with possession, to help seal the Cavalier victory.
“We are excited to win the tournament,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “You fight for things every year, and one of those things you fight for is to win a tournament. I thought we played with more effort. I thought China in particular played a really good floor game for us. I thought we were really tuned in and I thought we executed better.”
Crosby earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, finishing the game with eight assists. She logged assists on three of the Cavaliers’ first four baskets of the game, helping UVa get out to its hot start. She finished the tournament with 11 points, six steals, four rebounds and 11 assists to three turnovers.
“Yesterday I challenged myself to have no turnovers and when I had that one where I threw it away I was angry because I know I can do a better job,” Crosby said. “The ball is in my hands probably 90 percent of the time, so most of the assists and turnovers are going to come from me. I challenged myself tonight to not have any turnovers. I still had two silly ones, but I think I’m doing a much better job in that aspect of the game.”
McCall also earned all-tournament honors and was named the tournament MVP. She finished the game with 10 points, all coming in the first half, with seven rebounds, four blocks, and two steals. McCall had 14 rebounds with nine points against Norfolk State.
“I was really surprised when I was named MVP,” McCall said. “I wasn’t expecting it, especially since I didn’t score at all in the second half. But I guess it’s all about the little things: getting rebounds, playing defense, getting passes to my teammates.”
Xavier’s Shatyra Hawkes and Ashley Wanninger, Norfolk State’s Quineshia Leonard, and Northern Illinois’ Natecia Augusta were also named to the all-tournament team.
The victory wraps up the Cavaliers’ non-conference schedule with an 8-3 mark. The Cavaliers, who are 1-0 in the ACC, return to conference play on Thursday, Jan. 3 when they host Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.