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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Virginia women's basketball team defeated by Georgia Tech in return from COVID-19 pause

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ATLANTA — The Virginia women’s basketball team’s return from its lengthy COVID-19 pause didn’t go as well as the Cavaliers would have hoped.

Nerea Hermosa scored 20 points, Lorela Cubaj added 17 points and 11 rebounds and No. 16 Georgia Tech handed Virginia a 67-31 loss on Sunday at McCamish Pavilion.

Sunday’s setback was the Cavaliers’ first game since Dec. 19. During that three-week stretch, Virginia had four games called off due to COVID-19 issues. While the Cavaliers had enough players to play Sunday’s game, they were still missing three starters: Taylor Valladay, Camryn Taylor and Eleah Parker.

Virginia coach Tina Thompson did not use the extended layoff and missing players as an excuse for Sunday’s result.

“What we experienced with COVID and protocols and health and safety is what everybody in the country is experiencing,” Thompson said. “It’s not like we’re experiencing something that everyone else isn’t. The reality is that we’re going to have to adjust when we have to, and there is no excuse for effort. We can’t guarantee that we’re going to make every single shot. We can guarantee that we’re going to take the best shots that are available and executing our offense. We’re not going to stop every single player from scoring or doing what they do well, but the intention has to be that’s what we’re going to attempt to do consistently. And those are all things that we can control.

“No one here is new. And we’ve all been in the same gym every single day working on the same things. So we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and we have to stop making excuses. We have to just show up and we have to play at a high level consistently.”

Georgia Tech also was shorthanded. The Yellow Jackets only dressed seven players for the game.

Mckenna Dale hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter to give Virginia its first lead of the game at 18-16 but Eylia Love hit a 3-pointer 30 seconds later to put the Yellow Jackets in front for good and spark a 10-0 run.

Carole Miller hit a 3 to cut the Cavaliers’ deficit to 31-24 with 7:13 left in the third quarter but they went scoreless for the next nine minutes and did not make another field goal until Amandine Toe hit a 3-pointer with 3:45 left in the game to make it 63-29.

In total, Georgia Tech outscored the Cavaliers 41-12 in the second half.

“We came out in the first half and we executed, we defended, we basically followed our game plan and then something happened in the second half,” Thompson said. “We just could not get back on track and we were just very discombobulated. It’s not like they were doing anything different. But we decided to make no unjustified adjustments and just got into a place where we just kind of couldn’t get back to where we were and then we were basically defeated.”

Love finished with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals to lead Georgia Tech (11-3, 2-1 ACC).

Miller and Toi led Virginia (3-9, 0-2 ACC) with eight points apiece on combined 4-of-19 shooting. As a team, Virginia struggled shooting the ball, finishing 11-of-48 (22.9%) from the field. Georgia Tech shot 24-of-59 (40.7%) from the field and held a 43-29 edge in rebounding.

Virginia returns to action on Thursday when it hosts No. 5 N.C. State at John Paul Jones Arena at 7 p.m. The game will stream on ACC Network Extra.

“Now we’re going to go back to the drawing board and do what we do and continue to work at it,” Thompson said, “but we just can’t go into games like that without executing consistently and expect to have good results.”

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