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Virginia eliminates Lady Jackets

POSTED: March 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Virginia and Georgia Tech didn’t put up the kind of offensive numbers displayed in their last regular-season matchup.

Yet the 25th-ranked Cavaliers had to fight to the final minute to hold off the Yellow Jackets once again.

Lyndra Littles scored 15 points — including the game-winning basket — and had 16 rebounds Friday as the Cavaliers rallied to beat the Yellow Jackets 52-43 in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Monica Wright added 17 points and Aisha Mohammed had 12 points and 11 boards for fourth-seeded Virginia (23-8), which returns to the tournament semifinals for the first time since 2005. The Cavaliers will play No. 2 North Carolina today.

"It says a lot about our maturity," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said.

"We have grown a great deal over the last several months ... and we’ve taken a big step forward."

Iasia Hemingway had 19 points for fifth-seeded Georgia Tech (22-9), which saw its three leading scorers — Janie Mitchell, Chioma Nnamaka and Alex Montgomery — combine for 10 points on 6-of-33 shooting.

The Yellow Jackets were trying to reach the tournament semifinals for the first time since 2003.

The quarterfinal matchup was quite a change from the teams’ last meeting just five days earlier — a 103-101, double-overtime win by Virginia. But in Friday’s rematch, the Cavaliers overcame a four-point deficit to lead by three at the break, and trailed by four points again midway through the second half before rallying again.

Georgia Tech shot just 32 percent for the game and went 3-for-10 at the foul line.

"Our defensive effort was one of the best we’ve had all year long," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said.

"To hold Virginia to 52 points after giving up 103 a week ago shows our defensive adjustments were effective.

"But we struggled on the offensive end. When our leading scorers struggle like that, we’re going to struggle to find ways to win."

Georgia Tech grabbed a 36-32 lead on Bridgitte Ardossi’s layup with 10:59 left in the game and the two teams swapped the lead four times before Littles hit a short jumper. Mohammed followed with a layup to make it 44-41 Virginia with 3:21 left.

The Yellow Jackets managed to pull within one on Mitchell’s jumper with 2:53 to play, but Virginia closed out the game with eight unanswered points.

"It turned into a scoring festival at Charlottesville," Ryan said of the last game. "I didn’t want that to happen today. ... We were really ready to play defensively."

The Cavaliers, who moved into the Top 25 this week for the first time in four seasons, missed nine of their first 10 shots in the first 5 minutes of the first half. That allowed Georgia Tech to go ahead 19-15 on Hemingway’s driving layup with 4:33 left, though Virginia eventually rallied to take a 24-21 halftime lead.

"Our confidence is getting better," Wright said. "We went through a couple of games where we weren’t able to finish. But we’ve learned from those. This game, we definitely went through some adversity but we were able to close it out."



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