The Virginia Cavaliers should have won this game. The ‘Hoos had closed the third quarter on a 17-0 run to seemingly take a commanding 60-50 lead, yet they faltered down the stretch. One week ago, the Cavaliers held a 51-42 lead versus UNC, and that game slipped away, too. To make it a trifecta, Virginia, while getting the win against Boston College, also struggled mightily in the fourth. The women have to learn how to close out games better.
The Cavaliers are perpetually in foul trouble and, on this night versus the Florida State Seminoles, it was too much to overcome. Camryn Taylor picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the game and sat for 17 minutes in the first half. Sam Brunelle and London Clarkson both fouled out. Mir McLean was perpetually in foul trouble. The women are getting any help from the refs, but the inability of their bigs to remain in the game late is hurting big time
In large part because of these fouls, FSU took 29 free throws, converting 22, while Virginia was just 7-8 from the line. It was nice that UVA was good from the charity stripe, but that 15-point differential was the difference in the game.
Virginia had a respectable night from three, shooting 39% (7-18). At one point, Virginia converted threes on three straight possessions. The game gets a little easier when the outside shot is falling.
Last year’s Cavaliers struggled to score points. This year’s iteration can score points in bunches. Virginia outscored FSU 23-9 in the third quarter and they only scored hit one triple. It was just good ball movement leading to high percentage shots from Brunelle, Clarkson, and a lot of Camryn Taylor. Scoring also makes playing defense easier, as FSU tired a bit and launched a pair of airballs from deep.
The quarter breaks are very significant in women’s hoops and has a bigger impact than halftime does in the men’s game. Last game out against Boston College, Virginia was run off the court in the first frame, but then flipped the proverbial switch and effectively won the game in the second quarter. In this one, Virginia flipped the switch in the third only for the switch to be broken in the fourth. In that disastrous final frame, the Wahoos had four consecutive plays that were:
· After a great steal, Taylor Valladay can’t finish at the rim.
· After another steal, Yonta Vaughn missed an ill-advised 1 vs 2 three in transition.
· Kaydan Lawson was called for a charge.
· Sam Brunelle was called for a charge.
· Oh, and London Clarkson fouled out.
By the time the ‘Hoos stopped shooting themselves in the foot, FSU had turned a one-point deficit into a six-point deficit and the game was effectively over. Granted, those charge calls were iffy at best as UVA was on the wrong end of the whistle too many times tonight. But, still, the team needs to do a better job performing in the areas of the game that they can control.
Virginia highlight of the night: Late in the first quarter, the defense strips the ball. Vaughn has the presence of mind to use all four seconds to get within range and thus has a make-able three. Too many times players panic and make half-court heaves, but Vaughn’s composure was on full display here. She’s going to be good.
This was an enjoyable game to watch. You know, apart from losing. FSU is long and lanky and has victories over NC State and UNC already. They also boast Ta’Niya Latson, nine-time (and counting) ACC Freshman of the week. The game featured 10 lead changes and 12 ties, the teams took turns putting on offensive clinics, FSU and UVA combined for 21 blocked shots, two promising first-year coaches going head to head, and Virginia was only called for traveling once. There was something for everyone. Other than a Virginia win.
Next Up: Virginia travels to South Bend to take on Olivia Miles and the #7 Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish on Sunday, January 22nd. Game time is 2:00pm and it will be streamed on the ACC Network.