As the Virginia Cavaliers women’s basketball handled business against a severely overmatched Morgan State team, 84-28, we’ve got the plus/minus from yesterday’s victory.
The women have swept their way to a 12-0 start for the first time since the 1991-1992 season. The out-of-conference slate was meagre — only two teams played ranked between 50 and 100 in the NCAA’s NET ratings — but this was the schedule that Coach Agugua-Hamilton inherited. You can only play the teams that are in front of you. Last year’s team would have struggled with this slate; the fact that the Virginia Cavaliers are undefeated heading into ACC play shows how complete the transformation has been.
The first quarter was really, really bad. The Cavaliers are the fifth leading rebounding team in the nation, yet they were bullied on the boards. Morgan State got five offensive rebounds in the first quarter, and it could have been worse. One player who grabbed a rebound, while sprawled on her back, was immediately tied up for a jump ball. Another player had her foot on the line and was out of bounds. Another fumbled the ball away before collecting it. The Bears would take 14 first-quarter shots to the Cavaliers’ 8. Virginia had eight turnovers, went 50% from the free throw line, and struggled with Morgan State’s full-court pressure, which they applied even after missed buckets. Although Virginia lead 14-10 after the first frame, it was an ugly game of hoops.
This team is deep and their superior depth simply wore down Morgan State. The second quarter didn’t go much better offensively for Virginia — seven more turnovers will kill off most runs — but Morgan State had given it their all. The Bears would only make a single bucket in the second, going 1-14. They couldn’t press, they stopped getting rebounds — only six overall — and they got pounded by Camryn Taylor down low. Charlene Shepherd, the reigning MEAC Player of the Week, laid a goose egg on the day as she had to chase a fresh set of Virginia wings all game long.
Cady Pauley can ball. Pauly was recruited by Coach Mox when she was at Missouri State and Pauley came along with Agugua-Hamilton when she moved to Charlottesville. To open the season, I wondered whether Pauley was Missouri Valley Conference quality or whether she was ACC calibre. Well, offensively, Pauley’s game travels anywhere. Put the rock in her hands and she knows what to do with it. She has a very smooth stroke from deep, and when she has the ball in her hands, she can do this:
@pauley_cady with back-to-back #SCTop10 plays— Virginia Women's Basketball (@UVAWomensHoops) December 18, 2022
Watch UVA vs Morgan State live on ACCNX
https://t.co/kPxkulcMkW#GoHoos ⚔️ #GNSL pic.twitter.com/FwrLhfzjGa
Granted, these are back-to-back plays late in a blow out win — the ‘Hoos would win 84-28 — but they reflect a confident player with a gunner’s mentality.
It’s on the defensive end that Pauley is going to struggle. There is no way Tony Bennett would let someone like Pauley even see the hardwood, to which I say, “Viva, Coach Mox!” Pauley can bring down the house and, at this point, it is more a matter of when, not if, Pauley becomes your favorite Wahoo.
Pauley. She made SportsCenter. Let’s watch it again.
Sportscenter meet @pauley_cady— Virginia Women's Basketball (@UVAWomensHoops) December 19, 2022
I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship #GoHoos ⚔️ #GNSL pic.twitter.com/wGlJuxfrHN
Virginia shot a very respectable 40% from 3-point range. Sam Brunelle hit a pair in the first quarter to rescue what was otherwise a disturbing 10 minutes of play. And the Cavaliers shot a little over 70% from the free throw line. Making these freebies is never going to be a strength for this team, but Mir McLean (5-6 from the line,) Brunelle (2-2) and Taylor (7-8) seem to be rounding into shape and give some comfort for those inevitable close games.
30 third-quarter points. The team put up 16 points in the first 3 ½ minutes. Three buckets in transition (one a Brunelle three,) a pair of McLean and Taylor post-ups, and then Valladay and Taylor combining for a perfect 5-5 from the pinstripe. This team has the potential to explode at any time.
Due to a quirk in scheduling, Virginia played Wake Forest over a month ago. Virginia has been atop the ACC standings now for 37 days. Until Virginia Tech lost this weekend to Notre Dame, they had joined Virginia at the top of the table for 11 days. And, now with ACC play commencing in earnest, the ‘Hoos are joined by NC State, Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse (for all of two days). 37 days at the top. I’ll take it. It’s a nice little reminder of how far the women have come.
This is the ACC, and the second season begins with a bang for these women. They travel to Durham on Wednesday to play Duke and then three of the next four games are against top 10 teams: at Virginia Tech, at NC State and then hosting UNC. Players come to the ACC to play in the best conference in the country and, with eight teams that may spend in the AP Top 25, the ACC is as deep as ever. The women have done everything that has been asked of them to get to this point. But now the training wheels come off. Pre-season is over. The Cavaliers are ready for the real season.
Virginia travels to Duke on Wednesday, December 21st. Game time is 7:00pm and the game is on ACCN Extra.