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Virginia women's basketball team joins Duke in ending season early amid COVID-19 pandemic

Cassandra Negley
·3 min read
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The Virginia women’s basketball team is calling an early end to their season “due to health and safety concerns,” the school announced on Thursday.

The Cavaliers haven’t played since Dec. 13 and will finish their season 0-5 overall (0-2 in ACC play). For the past month they’ve been on a pause due to a positive test in the program and have missed six games.

COVID-19, injuries keep Virginia from playing

Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson's Virginia program will not continue its season. (William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The school said injuries have also depleted the roster and left them “unable to safely practice or compete.”

“We have the pleasure of coaching a very resilient group of young women who have fought through injuries, a strict COVID-19 protocol, and all the mental battles that come with it,” head coach Tina Thompson, a four-time WNBA champion, said in a statement.

“So, the decision to end our season mid-stream comes with great difficulty. As difficult as it is to end our season in this manner, it is a necessary one. The health and safety of our student-athletes will always be the number one priority. We will continue to focus on their overall well-being and prepare to resume competition in the fall.”

The school said all schedules for other varsity sports will continue. They join Duke and SMU, which cited health concerns in ending its season on Dec. 29. They were 0-6.

Duke first program to stop in-season

Duke was the first program to cancel the remainder of its schedule. The fellow ACC school played four games and made the announcement on Christmas after the Associated Press reported it. The Blue Devils were 1-3 and hadn’t played since Dec. 9.

They also dealt with positive COVID-19 tests, which were revealed on Dec. 16. Three games were postponed.

First-year head coach Kara Lawson said after that final game she didn’t think basketball should be going on amid the pandemic.

“I don’t think we should be playing right now. That’s my opinion on it,’ Lawson said on Dec. 9 following a blowout loss to Louisville.

Whereas Virginia addressed the situation and gave a direct reason for canceling, Duke has mostly stayed mum about it. Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs and government relations and chief communications officer, said in a statement the “team have made the difficult decision to conclude their current season due to safety concerns” and had the backing of the department.

COVID-19 creates ACC scheduling issues

The number of COVID-19 cases rose sharply in the weeks since holiday gatherings and women’s basketball games continue to be postponed due to positive tests and activity pauses. The highly anticipated matchup between No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 N.C. State in the ACC on Sunday was postponed. N.C. State is still on a pause.

No. 24 Syracuse has also been off for nearly a month as it deals with a positive test. The Orange have missed four games and last played Dec. 20. They are scheduled to host Miami on Sunday.

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