Notre Dame led 43-36 at halftime and seemed poised to blow the game open when it opened the second half on an 8-2 run to go ahead 51-38. Achonwa had five points and Loyd hit a 3-pointer in the burst, but after a timeout, Virginia got three consecutive baskets from Randolph to begin a stirring comeback.
"When they did go on a run, I called a timeout and the kids knew, "That's their run,'" Virginia coach Joanne Boyle said, adding that she had warned them at halftime that the Irish would try to take control quickly in the second half.
The Irish rebuilt their lead to 61-51, but an 11-4 run by Virginia pulled them within three. Randolph had five points in the burst and fed Ataira Franklin for another basket to get the Cavs within 65-62.
Three times the Irish scored to stretch their lead to five, and each time Virginia responded, finally getting the margin down to 71-69 on Imovbioh's free throw with 3:49 remaining. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Imovbioh missed her first two free throws on the trip before Franklin rebounded the second, and when Imovbioh was fouled again, she made one.
With its lead smaller than it had been since late in the first half, Notre Dame got a tough driving basket from McBride, rebounded a Virginia miss and got two free throws by Achonwa, and then followed a turnover by the Cavaliers with Achonwa's inside basket, extending the lead to 77-69 with 1:14 left.
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