Women’s Basketball: Virginia Edged 50-47 by No. 13 Kentucky

virginia women's basketballThe Virginia women’s basketball team (2-2) came up just short at John Paul Jones Arena on Saturday night (Nov. 16), falling 50-47 to No. 13 Kentucky (4-0).

Virginia led by one at the half, 23-22, but Kentucky built up a seven-point lead in the third quarter. The Cavaliers would not go away, twice pulling to within two in the fourth quarter before a three-pointer from senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) made it a one-point game, 48-47, with 44 seconds remaining, but the Wildcats held on to avoid the upset.

Willoughby ended the game with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Sabrina Haines led Kentucky with 17 points.

The Cavaliers went on a 7-0 run in the first quarter, fueled by five points from Willoughby, to take an early 7-4 lead, but Kentucky pushed ahead 17-12 early in the second quarter. Freshman guard Kylie Kornegay-Lucas (Camden, Del.) scored five quick points on a steal that translated to a fastbreak layup on the opposite end followed by a three-pointer to tie the game, 19-19, with 5:30 remaining in the half. The Cavaliers pushed their run out to 9-0 on a pair of free throws from Willoughby, giving UVA a 23-19 advantage with 1:49 remaining. Kentucky snapped an 0-of-8 shooting stretch with 32 seconds left in the half, but the Cavaliers went into the break with a 23-22 lead.

After Willoughby hit a jumper to start the second half, Kentucky, fueled by a pair of threes, scored the next 10 points of the period, taking a 32-25 lead. Freshman guard Dylan Horton (Los Angeles, Calif.) halted the run by hitting a three-pointer with 2:32 remaining in the quarter. Senior forward Lisa Jablonowski (Ernster, Luxembourg) opened the fourth quarter by making a pair of free throws to cut the deficit down to two, 34-32, but Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard answered with a three-pointer. After Kentucky built up another seven-point lead, the Cavaliers again chipped away, with a pull-up jumper from senior guard Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) making it 39-36 with five and a half to play, but Howard answered again.

Willoughby got it down to a two-point deficit, 44-42, on a jumper with three minutes left in the game, but Kentucky scored on its next two possessions to go up six. Willoughby hit a pair of free throws with 1:14 remaining and then drained a three-pointer on an inbounds pass from Toussaint with 44 seconds remaining to narrow the gap to one, 48-47, with 44 seconds remaining. Willoughby disrupted a Kentucky pass, with the ball rolling into the backcourt to give UVA the ball with 20 seconds remaining, but the Kentucky defense forced a tough, offline shot from redshirt freshman guard Amandine Toi (Paris, France).

Howard got the defensive rebound and was immediately fouled. She made both free throws on the opposite end. Virginia got the ball back with two seconds remaining and tried again for a three-pointer on an inbounds from Toussaint to Willoughby but Willoughby’s shot was off the mark and Kentucky held on for the victory.

“Just a tough one for us,” Virginia coach Tina Thompson said. “I mean, we came into this game really confident thinking this was one that we could get and we put ourselves in a position to win. Kentucky is a very good team. They’re a top-15 team in the country, so for our kids to come out and play the way that they did, we’re really excited about that. I think that for sure our first years know that they can come out and compete against anyone in the country and support our fourth years in a way that we can be competitive and successful. A tough loss for us, but overall I think that we played a solid game.”

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