The Pittsburgh Panthers are not a particularly good team with nary a win against a Power Five or Group of Five team. They had been held to under 50 points twice in their past four games. They were winless in the ACC, and yet they still handled the Virginia Cavaliers pretty cleanly. This was supposed to be the breather for the women before they have successive games against Louisville, NC State and Duke, all teams with Elite 8 aspirations. Instead it was UVA’s sixth consecutive loss.
The strength of the team is rebounding and the ‘Hoos pounded the Panthers on the boards to the tune of a 50-38 advantage. London Clarkson, making her first start of the season after setting a career high last game out, had a career high 10 rebounds in this one. McKenna Dale and Camryn Taylor also had nine boards.
If there is one area where the Cavaliers have improved over the course of the season, it’s at the line. What used to be a marked weakness is close to being a strength. The ‘Hoos went 5-6 from the charity stripe. So that’s progress, even if on low volume.
There’s a reason both of these teams are at the bottom of the ACC: they really struggled to shoot the ball. Virginia was 27% from the field and 20% from deep while Pitt shot well enough to win, but pretty poorly overall converting 35% from the field and hitting 28% from beyond the arc. This was Virginia’s worst night shooting the ball all season.
Refereeing continues to plague the Cavaliers. I know every fan thinks that their team gets screwed by the refs, which is why we try not to make much of a deal of it here at Streaking the Lawn. But there were half a dozen calls that were truly head-scratching. And Coach Agugua-Hamilton is understandably getting hotter by the game. The next two games are at home. I’m going to predict that Coach Mox is going to (rightfully so) get herself T’d up, probably on Saturday against NC State because I presume the crowd will be larger and louder. She has to do something to even the slate. The calls have simply been that bad.
The Cavaliers had their moments and, is their custom, they never stopped fighting. The women came out of the half on fire, and McKenna Dale hit back-to-back threes (with a foul on one for good measure) to knot the score at 31 (Pitt would then go on a 12-0 run to take control of the game. Good feeling gone). And, midway through the fourth quarter, Coach Mox put on the press and had the women go man-to-man as Virginia closed to within four points, 48-44. This team never gives up…
But the team is still shorthanded. Sam Brunelle was again on crutches (despite being listed day-to-day) and Carole Miller did not dress. Cady Pauley did get in, but she’s still struggling from deep, and thus played only 10 minutes. That just leaves UVA with seven players and it robs Coach Mox of positional flexibility which, at one point in the distant past, was the team’s strong point.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Once again, Virginia makes a star out of some opponent. This time it was Pitt’s Channise Lewis, who had made just nine threes all season, who, of course, hit on all three of her treys in the first half, and was a huge reason that Pitt took the lead into the locker room.
To be Determined
A famous basketball coach at Virginia once came in and said that before you could learn to win, you had to learn to lose. I’ve always presumed that Tony Bennett said that in reference to the players, but it may apply to the coach as well. Coach Mox ain’t used to losing. She won 74 games in three years at Missouri State, and before that she was on staff at a pretty good Michigan program. She may never have had a 1-9 streak in her coaching career. We’re going to get to see what kind of coach she is over the next month. For now, she’s as angry as any coach I’ve seen at Virginia. We’ll let her have the last word:
“I was completely and totally embarrassed by what we displayed today. That is not UVA women’s basketball. That is not our culture. That is not how we play and how we are going to play moving forward. I will fix it.”
Next Up: Louisville comes to the JPJ on Thursday, February 9th. Game time is 7:00pm and the game is on the ACC Network.