Saturday’s chapters came on both the team and individual pages when the Cavaliers upended No. 18 Catawba 65-54 in South Atlantic Conference play at the Prior Convocation Center.
Caitlyn Ross, one of three freshman starters for UVA Wise, became only the second women’s player since the college joined the NCAA Division II ranks in 2014 to finish with a triple-double. Ross totaled 14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
“I honestly didn’t realize I had until we got into the locker room,” Ross said. “I knew they were going to trap me, so I was just looking for my teammates to get open shots and it worked out. We got plenty of layups. And then at the end we had to secure the rebounds, so I was just going in and crashing the boards.”
Ross recorded the second triple-double in as many years for the Cavs (10-10, 5-8) and second-year coach Jamie Cluesman. Adalmaryz Rivera-Gomez achieved the feat last year as a senior.
“It’s exciting,” Cluesman said. “As a player growing up, playing the game, you always dream of getting that triple-double. To see two kids in two years get it, it’s a special moment.”
UVA Wise added a couple of chapters to the program’s history book as well. The Cavs beat a nationally ranked opponent for only the second time as an NCAA team, and Catawba (16-3, 11-3) was the highest-ranked foe they’ve beaten.
UVA Wise also blocked a team-record 14 shots.
“I thought we battled from the tip, pretty much the entire game,” Cluesman noted. “The third quarter we got a little passive, but I challenged them every dead ball, every timeout to pick up their energy. And they did when they needed to most.”
Their biggest burst of energy came in the final 6:41 of the game when Nia Vanzant, another freshman, hit a 3-pointer to break a 49-49 tie and give the Cavs the lead for good. The 3, Vanzant’s fourth of the game, ignited a 16-5 run down the stretch.
Vanzant finished with a game-high 21 points.
Taisha DeShazo, with 14 points, was the only Catawba player to finish in double figures. DeShazo one of 15 players to see time on the court for the Indians.
CAVS MEN FALL IN THE END
In the men’s nightcap, Virginia-Wise (5-15, 1-13) battled to the end but saw a buzzer- beating 3-point attempt by Chance Sheffey come up short in a 67-66 loss to Catawba.
The game featured eight lead changes and seven ties.
UVA Wise’s final lead came with 16.5 seconds left when Sheffey hit 1 of 2 free throws to put the Cavs up 66-65.
Marcell Haskett then two free throws for the Indians (14-6, 9-5) with 5.1 seconds left to play, and the Cavs’ last hope fell short.
Briggs Parris led the Cavs with 21 points. Eric Okenchi added 12 and Sheffey finished with 11.