CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s basketball (3-0, 1-0 ACC) opened ACC play with a 72-52 victory against Wake Forest (2-1, 0-1 ACC) at John Paul Jones Arena to cap its season-opening home stand. The victory marked the first time since the 2016-17 season that the Cavaliers opened their season with three consecutive wins. It was the earliest ACC game in program history.
Kaydan Lawson led UVA’s balanced scoring with 15 points while Camryn Taylor added 13 and Sam Brunelle 12. Brunelle topped the Hoos on the glass, pulling down seven rebounds.
Wake Forest could not overcome a poor shooting performance, making just 17 of 55 field goals (.309) and converting on just 10 of 21 (.476) free throw attempts. The Deacons did manage to outrebound UVA 45-41.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Back-to-back three-pointers gave Wake Forest an early 6-0 lead before the Cavaliers ripped off 10 unanswered points capped by consecutive three-pointers by Taylor Vallday to battle back into the contest. The Deacons closed the opening quarter with a 14-12 lead but then their poor shooting allowed the Cavaliers to dominate the contest.
UVA used a 14-2 run at the start of the second half to grab the lead and build a 10-point advantage on the Deacons at 26-16 following a put-back basket from Alexia Smith. The Cavaliers took a 30-25 lead into the half, led by Taylor’s 9 points. Following the opening quarter, the Deacons made just four of their next 20 field goal attempts.
Lawson opened the second half with a three-pointer and UVA doubled its lead in less than three minutes when London Clarkson made a layup to put the Cavaliers ahead 42-25 with 7:14 remaining in the third quarter. Virginia went on to outscore the Deacons 27-11 during the period and led 57-36 heading into the fourth quarter.
UVA held Wake Forest’s Jewel Spear to just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. The 2021-22 First Team All-ACC honoree came into the contest averaging 23 points per game for the Deacons.
- Virginia committed just eight turnovers in the game compared to 22 for Wake Forest. That allowed UVA to have a 26-8 advantage on points off turnovers.
- Despite be outrebounded on the glass, the Cavaliers outscored the Deacons 28-16 in the paint and managed 14 second-chance points to just three for the visitors from Winston-Salem
- Virginia’s largest lead (24 points) in the contest came late in the fourth quarter when Brunelle’s layup put them ahead 71-47
- The Cavalier’s 20-point win was the largest margin of victory against an ACC opponent since defeating Notre Dame 90-60 at John Paul Jones Arena in 2019-20. Sam Brunelle, playing for the Irish then, led Notre Dame with 21 points in that contest
- UVA’s eight turnovers were the fewest for the Cavaliers since the 2017-18 season when Virginia had just six turnovers in a first-round NCAA Tournament victory (68-62) vs. California
- Taylor Valladay finished the game with 10 points, joining Kaydan Lawson, Sam Brunelle and Camryn Taylor in players in double figures.
- Brunelle and Taylor have scored in double figures in all three games this season
FROM HEAD COACH AMAKA AGUGUA-HAMILTON
“Just really proud of our group. We really bought into the defensive side of the ball. We played some great defense, especially on Jewel [Spear] and made things tough for her. That was what the game plan was. We made shots when we needed to and played together when we needed to. I thought we handled adversity. We saw some adversity in that second quarter. Third quarter, we came out swinging, and I just really liked our attention to detail.”
“I’m just really proud of our group. We talk all the time that culture wins, and I truly believe that. That’s how you sustain greatness for years and years to come. It’s about them buying in, which they have since day one, and then leaving a legacy. There’s so much that we can do this season. Our ceiling is so high. I want them to be put on the record books for leaving a legacy and bringing UVA women’s basketball back. I’m really proud of them through three. We still have a lot of games left in our season. We’re celebrating this one tonight, and then we move on to the next one. I just want to keep it rolling, but I know we have a lot of games left and we’ve just got to continue to get better.”
ON THE HORIZON
- Virginia hits the road for the first time this season when the Cavaliers travel to Chicago to face Loyola on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. It is the first contest of a two-game road swing that also features a Sunday, Nov. 20 date at American
Highlights from the ACC opener against Wake Forest