NCAA

Virginia upsets Cal, grabs first Women's NCAA Tourney win since '09

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Twitter/@UvaWBBHoops

Virginia upsets Cal, grabs first Women's NCAA Tourney win since '09

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Dominique Toussaint hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:08 to go and No. 10 seed held off seventh-seeded Cal 68-62 in the Albany Regional for its first women's NCAA Tournament win in nine years on Friday.

Felicia Aiyeotan led the Cavaliers (19-13) with 16 points, just her second game in double figures since Jan. 7.

RELATED: MARYLAND BEATS PRINCETON, MOVES ON TO WOMEN'S NCAA TOURNEY SECOND ROUND

Cal had a streak of seven straight first-round NCAA wins entering the game, but played without leading scorer and rebounder Kristine Anigwe, who was medically ruled out after missing a morning shoot-around. The team would not detail what was wrong with the 6-foot-4 junior.

No doubt Anigwe's absence gave Virginia and especially the 6-9 Aiyeotan room to move down low. Aiyeotan was 5-of-5 in the final two quarters as Virginia moved in front.

The Cavaliers will take on the winner of No. 2 seed South Carolina -- coached by the most famous female in Virginia athletics, Dawn Staley -- or No. 15 seeded North Carolina A&T.

Despite missing Anigwe, Cal appeared ready to take control as they scored the first two baskets of the third quarter to move in front 35-30. That's when Virginia went on a 20-8 run to lead 50-43.

Cal was not done, though, as Asha Thomas and Kianna Smith combined to score 12 straight points in the fourth quarter. Thomas' foul shot tied things at 57-all with 1:53 to play.

On Virginia's next time down court, Toussaint struck from the left side of the arc for her go ahead shot. Smith cut things to one with her basket a moments later before Aiyeotan was alone once more for an uncontested basket to restore the Cavaliers margin.

Cal could not respond.

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It was Virginia's first NCAA Tournament victory since defeating Marist, 68-61, in the opening round in 2009. The Cavaliers had not been back to the tournament since 2010.

For Cal, it was the latest disappointing postseason showing.

The Golden Bears have only been past the second round one time in coach Lindsay Gottlieb's six tournament appearances when they reached the Final Four in 2013.

Jocelyn Willoughby had 13 points and Aliyah Huland El 12 for Virginia.

Smith led Cal with 20 points while Thomas added 17.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers turned up their defense in the final two quarters to overcome Cal's hot start. The Golden Bears had 14 of their 20 turnovers in the final 20 minutes. Virginia will need that kind of effort if they hope to go further in the Albany Regional.

Cal: The Golden Bears needed more push from the rest of their starters with Anigwe out and did not get it. Mikayla Cowling and Penina Davidson, who combined for 17 points a game this season, were held to nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.

 

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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USA TODAY Sports

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

MORE NCAA: TOP BUZZER BEATERS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

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USA TODAY Sports

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.

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Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."