Virginia Union Women’s Basketball playing for D-II National Championship

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Union Women’s Basketball team is focused on winning the second national championship in school history.

The team is playing in the Division Two National Championship Game Friday night in Columbus, Ohio.

After that, seniors will move on to graduation and uncertainty, but one student-athlete will leave basketball behind to pursue even loftier goals.

Junior guard Karigan Awkward has one more year of eligibility left after this season, but she is giving it up to become a doctor.

In order to study at Boston University, she has to enroll this Fall.

“It’s not something that you come across every single day,” Awkward said. “That’s not an option that many people have.”

Awkward plans to study infectious diseases and may someday cure aids or other communicable diseases. In the short term, though, she hopes to become a champion on the basketball court.

“This is something that I’ve wanted since my freshman year. Definitely, with this being my last year, we didn’t come this far for no reason,” Awkward said. “I believe that we can.”

The last time the Lady Panthers were in a title game was 1984. They lost that game, one year after winning it all in ’83.

Much of their recent success is thanks to second-year head coach AnnMarie Gilbert.

In her first season, she led the team to the elite eight.

Now, in her second year, she has taken them all the way to the title game.

While noting that they are not done yet, Coach Gilbert is thrilled with the success.

“It’s going to be a tough game. It’s going to require 40 minutes of effort and lots of focus,” Gilbert said. “Their program has won a national championship in the recent past. We just know we have our work cut out for us, but we’re up for the challenge.”

Tip time for the game is 7 p.m. Friday night.

Stay with 8News for more live reports from Columbus.

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