Despite playing shorthanded yet again, the Virginia Cavaliers (11-12, 3-9 ACC) knocked off Boston College 73-66 on Thursday evening inside Conte Forum, earning Coach Mox her 100th career victory as a head coach.
Here are five takeaways from Virginia’s second ACC road win of the season.
The ‘Hoos played a complete game
Virginia has struggled to string together four consecutive quarters of good basketball in conference play this season, but that was not the case on Thursday night.
Although the ‘Hoos briefly found themselves in an early 18-to-8 hole, they outscored the Eagles 65-to-48 over the game’s final 33 minutes and shot better than 40 percent from the floor in each quarter.
Especially impressive was the way Virginia slammed the door shut in the fourth quarter. The ‘Hoos have seen too many close games get away from them down the stretch, but against the Eagles, Virginia won the final period 19-to-12 by locking in on the defensive end and icing the game at the free throw line.
In the game’s biggest moments, it was UVA’s recent one-two punch of Kymora Johnson and Sam Brunelle who stepped up, combining for 13 points in the fourth quarter on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and a perfect 4-of-4 at the charity stripe.
Yonta Vaughn returned with a bang
After missing Virginia’s previous five games while in concussion protocol, sophomore guard Yonta Vaughn immediately made her presence known, finishing with a team-high 16 points (6-13 FG, 2-2 3FG) to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 29 minutes of action off the bench.
Vaughn’s 16-point scoring output was a career high and the third time she’s scored in double-figures this season.
Vaughn’s return to the lineup is huge for the ‘Hoos. For one, it gives Virginia a true backup point guard who can facilitate the offense when Johnson sits, allowing Alexia Smith and others to slide back into their more natural roles. But also, it gives Coach Mox the ability to utilize a two-point-guard lineup — which we saw at times on Thursday — to get multiple ball-handlers on the floor and relieve some of the pressure on Johnson.
Edessa Noyan stepped up
While Yonta Vaughn returned to the lineup, graduate forward London Clarkson was unavailable against the Eagles, forcing the ‘Hoos to turn to Edessa Noyan.
The freshman from Sweden (making her first start since Virginia’s season opener against UMES on Nov. 8th) was more than up to the task, finishing with career-highs in minutes (32), points (13), field goals made (6), rebounds (9), and steals (2).
Noyan has shown flashes of excellence throughout the season, and her crisp offensive game was on display again Thursday. Often the overlooked third member of Virginia’s highly regarded 2023 recruiting class behind Johnson and Olivia McGhee, Noyan had a lot of experience playing against older talent overseas and she only seems to be getting better as this season progresses.
In the four games that Camryn Taylor has been unavailable since her knee injury against Pitt, Noyan has shot 13-of-21 from the field and has posted at least five points in each contest.
Virginia deployed a balanced offensive attack
Entering Thursday, Kymora Johnson had led the ‘Hoos in scoring in each of their last six games. Virginia’s superstar freshman, however, got off to a bit of a slow start against the Eagles, scoring just four points through the first three quarters before turning it on with six in the fourth.
In her place, Virginia deployed perhaps its most balanced offensive effort of the season as five ‘Hoos (Vaughn, Paris Clark, Noyan, Johnson, and Sam Brunelle) finished the game in double-figures.
It’s a huge positive development that Virginia found a way to be effective offensively and to pull out a win even when Kymora wasn’t on her A-game.
Opportunity awaits on Sunday
Virginia has not won back-to-back ACC games since February 17th and 20th of 2022 when they knocked off Duke and Pitt, respectively, inside JPJ.
But with their win Thursday, the ‘Hoos now have the perfect opportunity to end that streak this weekend when they travel to Winston Salem for a Sunday afternoon showdown with Wake Forest. Although you can never take an ACC road game for granted, the Demon Deacons will enter the weekend winless in conference play after dropping to 0-11 in the ACC with a loss at Duke on Thursday night.