Friday, March 25, 2011

Debbie Ryan's Cavaliers survive and advance in WNIT

You knew it would happen this way, right? Legendary coach announces her retirement days before the postseason tournament, team gets on a mission and produces a lengthy run. All part of the script, right?

That's the way it seems for Virginia, which trumped Boston College 53-48 Thursday at John Paul Jones Arena to advance to the WNIT quarterfinals and extend coach Debbie Ryan's stint as the Cavaliers coach for at least one more game. When these teams met in the same building last month, the Eagles prevailed by 23 points.

"We are playing for her now," Virginia guard Ariana Moorer said of Ryan. "We want her here as long as possible."

It was the third straight postseason victory for the Cavaliers (19-15), who will host Charlotte on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the (other) Elite Eight. The three-game winning streak matches Virginia's longest of the season, something they've done on two other occasions.

Regardless of what happens Saturday, the Charlotte game will be Ryan's last at JPJ as the arena is booked during the dates for the WNIT's final two rounds, according to a Daily Progess report.

Moorer scored 15 points, China Crosby and Ataira Franklin each added 9 (and Franklin 10 rebounds) and Chelsea Shine chipped in 8 in yet another balanced scoring effort for the Cavaliers, who shot just 30.6 percent from the field but scored 18 points off Boston College turnovers. Four-time All-ACC center Carolyn Swords closed out her brilliant career with 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Eagles (20-13).

"I am very excited for the team, and it means everything to me," said Ryan, who will retire whenever this WNIT run ends after 34 seasons. "They know how much this means to me, and I want to stay with them. They are my girls, and they have been great throughout the whole tournament."

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