This was a statement win. The Virginia Cavaliers had largely outplayed Louisville midweek, only to falter late. This time out, the women led at halftime and after the third, and, despite some struggles against the NC State Wolfpack press, they stayed strong and gutted out the win.
The morning brought the news that Sam Brunelle will sit out for the remainder of the season and will have surgery soon. For a team already missing Mir McLean and now with the departure of Carole Miller, this is a grievous loss. But she’s coming back and is going to part of a strong, deep and experienced team next season.
Camryn Taylor scored Virginia’s first six points and eight of the team’s first dozen points. She fouled out, again, but it was her defense against NC State’s twin pillars of Camille Hobby and River Baldwin that set the tone. Hobby stands 6’3” and is the most underrated player in the ACC and River Baldwin at 6’5” is a load. They combined for just six points in a combined 31 minutes.
Before the game, as I was sitting with two former roommates, I explained that while the women run frequently in Coach Agugua-Hamilton’s regime, the ‘Hoos lack the explosiveness of the best teams in the ACC. But it was not Diamond Johnson or Jada Boyd who won the transition battle, but rather the Wahoos. Virginia outscored State on the break, 21-14. Taylor Valladay and Alexia Smith were especially strong.
Adventures at the charity stripe. On Saturday, the men made only three of their first 12 free throws before righting the ship late in the game. Before converting their last six free throws, the women had similar travails, shooting just 66% as the Wolfpack was edging closer in the fourth quarter. Ultimately the sheer number of chances overwhelmed NC State. The women attempted 21 free throws for the game, all coming in the fourth quarter as the Pack was forced to foul late. Valladay went 8-12 by herself. I would prefer to have the ball in London Clarkson’s hands late, even if she’s not the ballhandler because she’ been rock solid the past eight games.
As I have written multiple times this year, these women fight and scrap for everything. This was pretty much a wire to wire victory and the women withstood a furious rally and a withering press to walk out with a 12-point victory. The game was tied after one quarter, and NC State never really threatened the rest of the way out.
Virginia lost composure against the press NC State brought to bear in the fourth quarter. UVA was called for a pair of 10-second violations and had four other turnovers against the press in the fourth. It was shades of Syracuse there for a while. But there is a moment when you lose the ball that is crucial. If you hang your head, even if just for a beat or two, after a turnover, you’ll be punished. Because that is all the other team needs to take advantage of your lull. It’s perfectly human nature. But there was none of that today. These women transitioned seamlessly back into defense and NC State was largely unable to take advantage or capitalize on Virginia’s miscues. These women are going to punish people next year.
Today’s fan promotion was a “white out”. In that every fan was supposed to wear white. This would have made more sense for a men’s game as Tony Bennett hates orange — the men’s open game at the beginning of the season is the “Blue and White Game”— but Coach Mox has embraced the orange. The colors of this university are blue and orange and they shouldn’t be whiting out anything. There were precious few fans wearing white, including myself.
I had an incredible weekend in Charlottesville. Started out with a win in men’s lacrosse, which Zach covered already. UVA followed that with a win against Duke. And it wasn’t just beating Duke, admittedly always a good thing, it’s that the game hinged on a controversial call which left Duke fans outraged.
Filipowski on the line— The Brotherhood (@BrotherhoodCBB) February 11, 2023
0.2 seconds left
Duke wins the game
The objective, rightful outcome. What a disturbing, disgusting, grotesque robbery by the ACC officials from a bunch of 18 and 19 year old kids who put themselves in position to win the game.pic.twitter.com/j7I0QWPJMh
I love the smell of Duke outrage in the morning. Raise your hand if you’ll ever forget Grayson Allen taking five steps, and committing an up-and-down.
Official friend of Streaking the Lawn, Craig, met Ralph at his restaurant:
As if that wasn’t enough, he bumped into Tony before the game:
We ended Saturday night at a concert by Harmonious Hoos who performed in front of a raucous crowd at the Chem auditorium. Seriously, the crowd was louder than that which greeted men’s lacrosse at Klockner, who just happen to be the pre-season pick to win it all this year. Do yourself a favor and check out their album, Venn Diagrams, on Spotify.
And then the women complete the trifecta. What a great weekend.
Edit: With the loss, NC State falls out of the Top 25 for the first time since February 2018. They had been ranked for 96 consecutive weeks, or the fifth longest such streak behind such bluebloods as South Carolina, Stanford and Connecticut.
Next Up: The women get a week to savor this win before hosting Duke next Sunday, February 19th. The women just paid the Wolfpack back for an earlier loss. Let’s see how they do trying to return the favor versus Duke. Game time is 2:00pm and the game is on the ACC Network.