-- Roused from its offensive slumber after a frustrating first half, Virginia pulled ahead of Clemson with three straight three-pointers and went on to a 69-54 win tonight at University Hall.
Cavaliers co-captains Anna Crosswhite and Anna Prillaman hadn't contributed much offensively in recent weeks, but they sparked the game's key run with their team clinging to a 49-48 lead with less than six minutes remaining.
Clemson Coach Jim Davis had just switched his inexperienced Tigers (11-9, 3-6 ACC) to a triangle-and-two defense to better defend Virginia's Cherrise Graham (game-high 22 points). But the man coverage on Graham and Prillaman left the other Cavaliers free to attack Clemson's three-player zone.
Virginia (9-11, 3-6) took advantage, working Prillaman free for a three-pointer from the corner in front of the Cavaliers' bench. Crosswhite, who scored 13 points after sitting out the first half for violating a team rule, then hit threes on the next two possessions, giving U-Va. a 58-50 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left.
The defense "was nobody's fault but my own," Davis said. "We weren't ready for it and I should never have done it. Good teams will bail out a bonehead coach and we're not a very good team."
After falling behind 26-23 at halftime thanks in part to 13 turnovers, Virginia committed just three turnovers in a 46-point second half.
"We were throwing the ball all over University Hall in the first half," Cavaliers Coach Debbie Ryan said. "We went with certain plays and we did a much better job of catching and scoring and playing more disciplined in the second half."
With sophomore guard LaTonya Blue running the offense, the Cavaliers righted their ship. The Tigers weren't as successful, adding 11 second-half turnovers to the 14 they had at halftime.
Crosswhite hit 5 of 8 field goal attempts, including 3 of 4 threes, for her highest point total in nearly a month, despite playing only 16 minutes. "This is the sort of game I like to play in: 16 minutes, I can get my three-pointers in," she joked. "I've been telling Debbie that for three years."
* HOWARD 98, MORGAN STATE 37: The Bison won their third straight game, defeating Morgan State at Burr Gymnasium.
Shauna Ruglass scored 20 points and Simone Agee added 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Bison (6-13, 6-4) earned their most lopsided victory of the season. Howard led 52-20 at halftime and held the Bears (1-18, 0-10) to 25 percent shooting.