Sunday, Jan. 30 12:00pm ET
Cavs win eighth straight ACC game
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Lisa Hosac knew that Virginia's 61-49 victory over No. 9 Duke on Sunday gave the Cavaliers (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 25 AP) sole possession of first place in the ACC, but even she never expected to see that perch this season.
"I probably would have laughed in their face and asked them how," Hosac said when asked if she would have believed the result six weeks ago. "After the ODU game, we were at a low point and it was questionable about what was going to happen to us. That's why this is so fun."
After 21-point losses to Duke and Old Dominion in early December left Virginia at 4-4, the Cavaliers have been one of the nation's hottest teams. They've won eight straight, 12 of 13 and now are 16-5, 8-1 in the ACC.
They have beaten every team in the conference, including Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State when all three were in the top 10.
"We just realized that we need each other," Hosac said of the Cavaliers' turnaround. "Teams can't key on one player because it's always someone else. ... This team has a lot of weapons."
Against the Blue Devils, it started with defense.
Virginia forced 15 first-half turnovers, turned them into 17 points and held the Blue Devils without a point for 8:49 while building an 18-0 lead.
"We were focused," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "It was amazing."
And the Blue Devils? "They weren't their normal well-oiled self," she said.
Duke (18-3, 7-2) shot only 30.8 percent and was held to its lowest scoring output since a 71-45 loss to the U.S. national team in a Nov. 10 exhibition.
The Blue Devils played without forward Peppi Browne, their second-leading scorer and rebounder. Browne suffered a knee injury in a victory against North Carolina on Thursday and did not make the trip to snowy Charlottesville.
Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said Browne's absence probably seemed like a good excuse for the way Duke started, but being ready to play would have helped.
"When did we score? I think it was like 20 minutes or something," she said, laughing. "I don't think that Peppi makes that much of a difference."
The game came a year after one of the most difficult losses of Ryan's 23-year career. Last Feb. 4, Virginia led Duke 51-33 with 12½ minutes left, then was outscored 33-5 and lost 66-56 at University Hall.
This time, the Cavaliers again dominated early, leading 28-12 at halftime and 34-16 early in the second half, but the Blue Devils again made a charge.
Duke outscored Virginia 21-10 to get within seven on Michele Matyasovsky's two free throws with 8:11 left. But Virginia outscored Duke 7-2 over the next 2½ minutes to build its lead back to 51-39 and the outcome was secured.
Ryan said she never mentioned last year's melt down, either at halftime or when Duke was rallying, but instead was cracking jokes and keeping them positive.
"They're not a team that does well when you tell them too much," she said.
Renee Robinson led Virginia with 15 points and Schuye LaRue had 12 and 10 rebounds. Virginia shot 36.8 percent and made 17 second-half free throws.
Matyasovsky scored 14 points and was Duke's only double-figure scorer.
Womens College Basketball Scoreboard