Wahoos Grab WNIT Win Against BC
Mar 24, 2011
Debbie Ryan's team advanced to the WNIT Quarterfinals.
Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said the nerves are worse at home than away. The win-or-go-home nature of tournament play, after all, means she doesn't know when the end will officially arrive as she coaches the final games of her Cavalier career. On Thursday, the pit in her stomach started shortly after shoot-around in the afternoon and remained even after her team's 53-48 victory against Boston College in the WNIT.
While that pit is a sign of the nearing conclusion of a 34-year ride, Ryan is still trying to enjoy the postseason run - this is the program's third trip to the WNIT Quarterfinals in six years - and soak up as much time with her players as she can.
"I am very excited for the team, and it means everything to me," Ryan said. "They know how much this means to me, and I want to stay with them. They are my girls, and they have been great throughout the whole tournament."
Staying alive in the tournament is important to the players too because it is their gift to their coach.
"We are playing for her right now," guard Ariana Moorer said. "We want her here as long as possible."
"She is legendary. She has taught us so much and has brought so much to this program," guard China Crosby said. "It means a lot to us to know she is coaching us for at least one more game, and we go out and play with our hearts and souls."
Ariana Moorer finished with 15 points and 3 assists.
Fittingly, Moorer and Crosby played big roles in Thursday's outcome, which was a complete reversal from the Feb. 20 match-up with Boston College. The Eagles won that one 73-50 while shooting 47.5% from the field and 52.9% from 3-point range. This time around, the Hoos held the visitors to 35% shooting overall and clamped down on the 3's to the tune of 15.8% allowed from beyond the arc.
That perimeter defense proved to be a huge key in Virginia's win. While BC posts Carolyn Swords and Stefanie Murphy did more damage than in the regular season meeting (35 points Thursday vs. 28 points in February), the Eagles' starting guards couldn't find the same groove on this visit to the John Paul Jones Arena - Kerri Shields, Jaclyn Thoman, and Kristen Doherty combined for just 12 points after pouring in 29 last month. Shields, in particular, felt the effects of UVa's defense; she had a game-high 17 points in the first meeting, but just 5 on Thursday and she didn't even get in the book until 5:04 remained.
Moorer and Crosby contributed to that turn-around in perimeter defense as the duo combined for 5 steals on the night. Moorer got both of her thefts at the end of the first half during a personal 8-0 run that gave the Cavaliers the halftime lead. Crosby, meanwhile, came up with one of her steals after Boston College called for a timeout to try to slow down what became a 15-4 surge, which propelled Virginia from a 29-28 deficit to a 43-33 lead.
"I know that as a small guard I have to defend. I go for the steals, and look to see if I am getting in the other point guard's head. I got some steals tonight, and I take pride in playing defense," Crosby said. "My knee is getting better, and I am getting more confidence in my defensive play."
UVa also got solid performances from both Chelsea Shine and Ataira Franklin, who came up with a lot of little plays as part of a balanced effort from the Hoos. Shine finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal. Franklin narrowly missed a double-double with 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Whitney Edwards made two 3-pointers to chip in 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal, while Simone Egwu had 4 points and 7 rebounds.
All of the contributions, of course, extended Ryan's stay on the Cavalier sideline for at least one more game. And rest assured that pit in Ryan's stomach will be there in full force on Saturday when she coaches her final home game at Virginia - the Hoos host Charlotte at 7 p.m. in the WNIT Quarterfinals on Saturday and any future contests earned via tournament wins will be elsewhere due to scheduling conflicts at the JPJ.Final Stats
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