sThe Virginia Cavaliers dropped their third game in their last four outings on Thursday night, falling to Georgia Tech 63-60 in Atlanta. With the ‘Hoos now sitting at 8-5 (0-2 ACC), here are five takeaways from Thursday’s physical, defensive battle against the Yellow Jackets.
FINAL | Georgia Tech 63, Virginia 60— Virginia Women's Basketball (@UVAWomensHoops) January 5, 2024
Camryn Taylor (19 pts, 7-12 FG) and Paris Clark (13 pts, 12 reb, 3 stl) lead the way.
Up next, we host Duke on Sunday (Jan. 7). Tipoff is at noon on The CW.
It was an ugly one in Atlanta
The ‘Hoos once again fought hard and their effort was certainly not their downfall in this one as Virginia — who entered Thursday ninth in the country in team rebounds per game at 47.25 — once again outworked their opponent on the glass and outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 46-42.
Defensively, the ‘Hoos were locked in again as well. London Clarkson anchored things inside with 4 blocks and 2 steals before fouling out in the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers’ starting backcourt of Kymora Johnson and Paris Clark combined for 6 steals as they kept the Yellow Jacket guards uncomfortable throughout the night.
Aesthetically, however, Thursday’s game wasn’t easy on the eyes. UVA and Georgia Tech combined for 33 turnovers, were called for 41 fouls, and shot a combined 41-of-123 (33.3%) from the floor, 5-of-34 (14.7%) from beyond the arc, and 36-of-56 (64.3%) from the free throw line.
Time to dust off the shooting machine at JPJ
As has been a lingering issue throughout the season and a killer in each of Virginia’s first two ACC contests, the ‘Hoos just could not get their shots to fall against Georgia Tech.
The Cavaliers went 22-of-64 (34.4%) from the floor overall and just 1-of-16 (6.3%) from three-point range (with Camryn Taylor knocking down UVA’s lone triple on just her sixth attempt of the season).
Virginia relies heavily on their fast-break offense and while they were able to score 14 points in transition on Thursday, when they’re forced to slow down and run their halfcourt offense they have struggled mightily to generate points in recent games.
Things actually could’ve looked a lot worse offensively, but the ‘Hoos were able to score 17 second-chance points thanks to their dominance on the glass. It’s a credit to their overall energy and effort that this one was within striking distance down the stretch.
We’ve seen that when this group gets hot their shots can start falling in bunches, so hopefully the ‘Hoos can break out of their recent cold stretch in a hurry.
A tight whistle kept either team from getting into rhythm
As I mentioned before, there were a whopping 41 total fouls called in this one — 24 on UVA and 17 on Georgia Tech. Virtually every time someone drove to the basket, they ended up going to the free throw line (including Georgia Tech’s Kara Dunn who extended their lead to 63-60 with a pair of FT’s after a very questionable call on Camryn Taylor with 20 seconds to play).
The quick whistles kept the game from getting into any sort of offensive rhythm and hurt the ‘Hoos as their top-three scorers on Thursday — London Clarkson, Camryn Taylor, and Paris Clark — each dealt with foul trouble that limited their minutes.
Yonta Vaughn tried to take matters into her own hands late in the fourth quarter by tackling referee Linda Miles (accidentally, of course), but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the calls down the stretch.
Virginia’s press can help generate some quick offense
The ‘Hoos put on a full-court press for much of the second half on Thursday and it helped generate some much-needed easy offense. Virginia’s best stretch of play came in the latter half of the third quarter as the Cavaliers’ press helped erase a seven-point deficit heading into the final quarter.
While there were a few instances where the Yellow Jackets managed to get some open looks off their press break, for the most part it sped the game back up to Virginia’s desired pace and helped the ‘Hoos focus on attacking the rim. Virginia shot 9-of-15 from the field in the third quarter while only attempting one three.
Until the outside shots start falling again, UVA will need to frequently attack the rim. As in Thursday’s game, the press can be a very useful tool in spurts for kickstarting the transition game and generating some easy looks.
Camryn Taylor continues to dominate
Not everyone was struggling to get buckets on Thursday as Camryn Taylor churned out yet another dominant performance against the Yellow Jackets. The Cavaliers’ leading scorer on the season finished with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and knocked down all four of her attempts from the charity stripe.
Taylor’s scoring average on the season is up to 14.8 and she’s been incredibly efficient from the floor all year as Thursday was her tenth game in which she finished in double figures. Taylor was already a dominant scorer last season, and her progression at the free throw line (she entered Thursday top 30 in the nation in FT%) has added yet another weapon to her game.