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Three takeaways from UVA women’s basketball’s road win over Wake Forest

The ‘Hoos cruised to victory on Sunday.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 08 Women’s - Virginia at Boston College Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers (12-12, 4-9 ACC) climbed back to .500 on the season with an 87-79 win at Wake Forest on Sunday afternoon inside Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. With the win, the ‘Hoos have now earned back-to-back ACC victories for the first time since February 17th and 20th of 2022.

Here are three takeaways from a casual victory for the Cavaliers on Super Bowl Sunday.

A three-point barrage propelled the ‘Hoos

For a team that has, at times, struggled mightily from beyond the arc, Virginia has also managed to win multiple games on the back of some hot three-point shooting.

In Sunday’s win over the Demon Deacons, the ‘Hoos went 13-of-26 (50%) from three-point range while nearly doubling their season-average of 7.0 three-point field goals made per game.

At the forefront of the long-range attack was Virginia’s starting backcourt, freshmen Kymora Johnson and Olivia McGhee. The duo knocked down three triples apiece while combining for an incredibly efficient 45 total points on 17-of-28 (60.7%) shooting from the floor.

Johnson has been a force for Virginia all season, and when given the opportunity, McGhee has displayed a silky jumper and smooth offensive arsenal. Coupled with some strong, recent performances by fellow freshman Edessa Noyan, it continues to look like Coach Mox’s 2023 recruiting class can be the backbone of the program moving forward.

Virginia’s explosive performance from distance allowed them to build a comfortable, double-digit lead in the first half that ballooned to as many as 18 late in the third quarter. A couple last-minute three-pointers from Wake Forest made the final margin a little closer than the game felt, but overall, it was a rare, stress-free outing for the ‘Hoos in ACC play.

Welcome back, Camryn Taylor

Virginia’s frontcourt anchor was well on her way to another All-ACC season before missing the last four games after suffering a left knee injury against Pittsburgh on Jan. 25th. But Taylor picked up right where she left off in her return to the court on Sunday, finishing with 14 points (5-7 FG) and 2 blocks in 19 minutes of action off the bench before fouling out in the fourth quarter — just spark the ‘Hoos had been missing down low.

With Taylor out of the lineup, the offensive responsibilities had fallen squarely on Kymora Johnson’s shoulders. And while she was more than up to the task, averaging 20.25 points in the four games without Taylor, the offense becomes much more balanced with Taylor back in the picture. Opposing defenses now have the nearly impossible task of deciding which Cavalier star to try to slow down.

With Taylor back on the court and Yonta Vaughn making her return from concussion protocol in Thursday’s win over Boston College, Virginia is nearly back at full strength. London Clarkson remained out against the Demon Deacons, but the ‘Hoos are getting healthy at just the right time.

Virginia is a dangerous group

Don’t let the underwhelming conference record fool you, the ‘Hoos are not your average ACC bottom-feeder.

Virginia has now won three of their last five contests and picked up back-to-back conference road victories for the first time since the 2017-18 season. While the ‘Hoos don’t have an at-large NCAA Tournament résumé, they’ve proven they can hang with elite competition on multiple occasions this season (highlighted by ranked victories over Florida State and North Carolina in the past few weeks), and perhaps more importantly, are demonstrating a level of consistency that wasn’t there earlier this season.

Sometimes it’s just as difficult to take care of business against teams that you should beat as it is to get up for big games against ranked teams. While the ‘Hoos have had a knack for letdown games this season, namely home losses to Wofford and Pitt, they’ve showed a high level of maturity while getting the job done in their past two games.

A tough schedule down the stretch might keep the ‘Hoos out of contention for a bye in the ACC Tournament, but with their combination of talent and recent success, it would be unwise to overlook this Virginia squad down the stretch.