Virginia Women Hosting 27th Annual Cavalier Classic

The 2012 Cavalier Classic, presented by Holiday Inn University Area, features four games that will be played Dec. 28-29. Northern Illinois will host Xavier in the opener on Friday, Dec. 28 at 4:30 p.m. Virginia will take on Norfolk State on Friday at 7 p.m.

Win or lose, Virginia will play in the 7 p.m. game on Saturday. If Virginia wins, they will play the winner of Northern Illinois/Xavier in the championship game. If Virginia loses, they will play the loser of Northern Illinois/Xavier as a consolation game. Norfolk State hosts the 4:30 game.

At the conclusion of the 7 p.m. game on Saturday, a six-member All-Tournament Team, including the tournament MVP, will be announced. Last season, Virginia's Ariana Moorer was named the MVP with Ataira Franklin also being named to the All-Tournament squad.

Virginia has captured 22 of the 26 Cavalier Classic team titles since the tournament began in 1976. Started as the precursor to the ACC Tournament, the Cavalier Classic's official name has changed several times through the years. North Carolina captured the first title in 1976. NC State won the event in 1977. Auburn took home the title in 1998 and Minnesota won in 2003.

Virginia has played in the championship game every year since 1979.

Last year, the Cavaliers defeated UMass, 53-38, to win the title. In the last eight years, Virginia has outscored its opponent by an average of 22.7 points in the championship game and has only once defeated a team by single digits in that span.

"It's a great warmup tournament, we have Norfolk State to begin with then the winner of Xavier and Northern Illinois and that's going to be a battle and I've watched some film on all the teams and on any given night anybody can beat anybody," explained head coach Joanne Boyle.

"So we're going to have to go out there and be focused and really be a much better team than we've been the last week or two."

The Cavaliers are 3-1 in home games this season, but have lost three of their last four overall games including a 73-70 double overtime loss at Alabama right before the holiday break.

"We just have to keep working hard. Don't give up. We think that we're working hard, we just have to keep working hard," senior forward Telia McCall said. "We can't get discouraged. We thought we worked hard in the Alabama game but there's little things we could have done to win that game."

Friday's opponent, Norfolk State, just ended an eight-game losing streak with a 60-56 win at home over Chowan on Dec. 19. NSU is scoring 57.1 points per game and allowing 63.6. The Spartans are also shooting 34.9 percent from the field and allowing a 36.6 percent clip to opponents.

The all-time series between Virginia and Norfolk State is knotted at 5-5. The two teams last faced one another in 1981 with the Cavaliers earning a 58-57 victory in Charlottesville.

Off to a 5-6 start this season, Xavier, a potential Saturday opponent, has lost five of its last seven games since winning three of its first four. The Musketeers are scoring 64.1 points per game and allowing 63.9. They are also shooting 39.7 percent from the field and allowing a 39.5 percent clip to foes. This would be the first meeting between Virginia and Xavier.

Northern Illinois, the other possible Saturday opponent, is lead by head coach Kathi Bennett. The veteran collegiate head coach guided three programs to eight NCAA Tournaments and five conference championships while posting a career winning percentage of .605 (323-211) prior to being named the Huskies' head women's basketball coach on May 18, 2010.

Bennett is the sister of UVa head men's basketball coach Tony Bennett. The siblings both followed the footsteps of their father -- legendary coach Dick Bennett -- as collegiate basketball head coaches. Tony has over 100 career wins while both Kathi and Dick have over 300 career wins. The trio has a combined 11 NCAA Tournament appearances.

This would be the first meeting between Northern Illinois and Virginia.

The Cavalier Classic, presented by Holiday Inn University Area, will wrap up the Virginia's regular-season non-conference games. UVa is currently 6-3 against non-conference opponents this season.

"I think we're a good team when there's not a lot of adversity but when adversity strikes we tend to fold a little bit so we've been working on the mental part of the game and being a little more mentally strong and those are the key things moving forward for us," Boyle added.

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