Cavaliers want to 'Beat Tech' Thursday night

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- There are no 'Beat Tech' signs hanging around the locker room or practice gym at John Paul Jones Arena, like at the McCue Center across the street.
But it's still the mindset for the Virginia women's basketball team whenever they meet their in-state rivals from Blacksburg.

UVA guard Jocelyn Willoughby remembers learning about the magnitude of the Virginia Tech game the first time she played the Hokies as a freshman in 2017.

"Coming in, there was so much energy. So many students here, season ticket holders. Just a lot of rivalry in the air," Willoughby recalled on Wednesday. "I just remember being so in-tuned and being like, 'Okay, everyone else is super excited about this, so we really have to beat Tech.'"

The Wahoos won that game 76-27, igniting UVA's current four-game winning streak in the series. Virginia has only lost to Tech twice in 24 meetings over the past 11 seasons, and that stretch began with an 18-game winning streak by the Cavaliers.

The two schools play for the first time this season on Thursday night at John Paul Jones Arena. It will be first-year UVA coach Tina Thompson's first taste of the rivalry.

"Everyone has their opinion about who is the state school for Virginia," Thompson said with a wide smile after Wednesday's practice. "We know it's us, but it definitely makes the game a lot of fun, and the competitive level rises for sure."

Thompson is still in search of her first ACC win as coach of the Cavaliers. UVA and the Hokies both enter Thursday's game 0-2 in conference play. Virginia is 6-9 overall in Thompson's first season; Tech won all 13 of its non-conference games under third-year coach Kenny Brooks.

With a pair of ranked teams, NC State and Louisville, looming on the schedule, the Wahoos could really use a win on Thursday night, Willoughby said.

"Especially against an ACC team that's been playing pretty well," she said.
"But they're hungry for a win as well. We're both 0-2 in the conference right now. We know we're both going to be hungry, but we're about to see who is going to be the most aggressive, and play 40 minutes."

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