Nov. 7, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia women's basketball team opens the 2013-14 season on Friday, Nov. 8 when they take on James Madison at Convocation Hall in Harrisonburg, Va.
This is the second-straight year the Cavaliers and Dukes have opened the season facing one another. Last year, Virginia opened the season with a 78-57 victory over JMU in Charlottesville.
Virginia has won its last eight season-openers.
Last year, the Cavaliers were 8-4 against non-conference opponents. In head coach Joanne Boyle's first two seasons at Virginia, UVa is 20-6 against non-ACC teams during the regular season.
Virginia owns a 15-7 all-time record over James Madison, but the Dukes have won three of the last five meetings, including a 68-59 victory in Harrisonburg in the 2012 WNIT Quarterfinals.
Last year against James Madison, junior Sarah Imovbioh scored 21 points in her collegiate debut, which tied the Cavalier mark for most points scored by a first-year Virginia player in the season opener.
Senior guard Lexie Gerson will return to the court on Friday after sitting out all of last season recovering from hip surgery. Gerson, who earned a spot on the ACC All-Defensive Team during her junior year, has not played in a game since the WNIT loss at JMU where she scored 15 points and had three steals.
In addition to the return of Gerson, the Cavaliers will also see redshirt freshman Raeshaun Gaffney make her belated collegiate debut. Gaffney sat out all of last season recovering from shin surgery. Gaffney was ranked by Blue Star as the No. 35 prospect in her class, averaging 26.7 points per game her senior season.
Senior guard Kelsey Wolfe is also eligible to play on Friday against the Dukes. Wolfe sustained an ACL injury on Feb. 17, 2013 against Maryland. At the time of her injury, Wolfe was ranked second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.6 points per game. Wolfe, who had 45 steals last season, was ranked tenth in the ACC in steals, averaging 1.8 per game.
Senior guard Ataira Franklin earned preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors for the second-straight year, being named to both the ten-member Blue Ribbon Panel and the Coaches' Preseason All-ACC teams. Franklin was a member of the 2012-13 All-ACC team. She finished last season ranked ninth in the conference in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game, and fifth in steals (2.2 per game). Franklin will enter the 2013-14 season having scored 1,192 points in her Cavalier career, ranking her 20th in the UVa record book.
Franklin is also one of 30 women's basketball nominees for the Senior CLASS award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The Cavaliers have four freshmen poised to make their collegiate debuts. The class was ranked No. 8 by Blue Star Report and ESPN ranked it No. 9 on signing day last year. Sydney Umeri, a 6-1 forward from Atlanta, was the highest-ranked recruit in the class at No. 13 by Blue Star, No. 29 by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 32 by All Star Girls Report. HoopGurlz also ranked her as the No. 9 forward. Umeri was named to the 2011 USA Basketball Women's U16 National Team, winning a gold medal with the team. Breyana Mason, a 5-8 guard from Woodbridge, Va., attended the same high school as Virginia alum Monica Wright and broke Wright's career scoring record with 1,979 points in her four years of high school. Mason, the Gatorade State Player of the Year for Virginia, was ranked No. 51 overall on ESPN HoopGurlz and tabbed the No. 13 point guard. Amanda Fioravanti, a 6-1 forward from Adamstown, Md., attended Good Counsel High School, where she was a teammate with current UVa sophomore guard Faith Randolph. Fioravanti, the Maryland Gatorade State Player of the Year, was ranked No. 93 on ESPN HoopGurlz and the No. 24-ranked forward. She was ranked No. 78 overall by Blue Star. Tiffany Suarez, a 5-10 guard from Miami, Fla., attended Our Lady of Lourdes Academy and is ranked No. 74 by Blue Star and is the No. 31 guard according to ESPN HoopGurlz. The combo guard was named first-team All-Dade last season, averaging 14.2 points and 4.2 assists last year.
The Cavaliers will play their first home game of the 2013-14 season on Monday, Nov. 11 when they host High Point at 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia has won its last 13 home openers. Virginia is 2-0 against the Panthers, including a 30-point victory in 2008 (78-48) and a 26-point win in 2011 (67-41).