CHARLOTTESVILLE — For a brief time in the final minutes, it looked like the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team might end its long losing streak against Virginia on Thursday.
It didn’t happen.
UVa beat Tech for the 13th straight time, fending off the Hokies 52-48 at John Paul Jones Arena.
“It’s always good to see our team can grind it out,” UVa coach Joanne Boyle said. “But [when] you’re playing a much better team down the road and you’re in that situation, can you pull it out? I’m glad we did it, but if we don’t have to be in those situations in every game, let’s not put ourselves there.”
UVa beat Tech by double digits in the teams’ two meetings last season, but its win did not come so easily this time.
The Hokies erased a 13-point second-half deficit and took their only lead of the game at 46-45 with 1:48 to go. But UVa answered.
“We’re really, really disappointed because we got control of the game and we didn’t close it out,” Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. “There’s no consolation at all [in the close game]. These kids are bitterly disappointed. We thought we could’ve won.”
The Hokies (7-6, 1-1 ACC) haven’t beaten UVa (9-4, 1-1) since January 2007.
“They’re our state rival and you want to own your state,” Boyle said.
Tech’s Monet Tellier, who scored all 20 of her points in the second half, made two free throws for the 46-45 lead.
The Hokies could have extended that lead, but UVa’s Telia McCall stole the ball from Uju Ugoka.
“I caught the ball and I went right to their defense. That’s what caused the turnover,” Ugoka said.
After the steal, UVa’s China Crosby drove to the basket, made a layup and was fouled. Crosby roared with delight. She made the free throw for a 48-46 lead with 54.3 seconds left.
“I actually was going to pull it out to run an offensive set, but Coach ‘B’ was just waving the hand — ‘Just go,’ ” said Crosby, who had 16 points.
Tech’s Aerial Wilson missed an 8-footer with 28 seconds to go and UVa’s Simone Egwu got the rebound. Crosby made two free throws with 26.7 seconds left for a 50-46 cushion.
Tellier and Ugoka (16 points) had 36 of Tech’s 48 points and combined for 13 of Tech’s 18 baskets.
Tech shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 24-14 at halftime.
“We’re not a great outside shooting team, so they slowed us down,” Wolff said. “We made an adjustment at halftime that enabled us to flow into offense a little bit quicker.”
Down 34-21, the Hokies went on an 18-5 run to tie the score at 39 on a Wilson layup with 7:06 to go. Tellier had 10 of the 18 points in the run. Tech began the run with nine straight points, including five by Tellier and four by Ugoka.
“When you’re starting to build a lead on a team, you have to have the mentality to put a team away. We relax,” Boyle said. “We’re just not going to be in that situation that often in the ACC, so you’ve got to take advantage. … We just let up.
“And then when we let up, then we panic and we don’t play as a team.”
Ugoka made two free throws to cut the deficit to 43-41 with 4:41 to go.
But the Hokies turned the ball over twice in the final four minutes, when they were just 2 of 6 from the field and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line.
“It became a possession game and we had a couple really bad possessions,” Wolff said.
UVa had 11 steals.