Highlights: Virginia 81, #20 North Carolina 66
CHARLOTTESVILLE Va. – One week after toppling No. 15 Florida State, Virginia (10-10, 2-7 ACC) picked up its second ranked win of the week by defeating No. 20 North Carolina (15-7, 7-2 ACC), 81-66, at John Paul Jones Arena Sunday afternoon (Jan. 28). The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, but rallied to earn their second ACC win of the season in front of a season-high 5,690 spectators.
Virginia shot a season-best 58 percent from 3-point range, its highest clip from beyond the arc this season. Kymora Johnson scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including four made 3s, and pulled down four rebounds. Johnson has now led the Hoos in scoring in their last three games. Sam Brunelle (14 pts, 5-9 FG, 4-5 3FG), Paris Clark (14 pts, 4-5 FG, 5-5 FT) and London Clarkson (10 pts, 4-5 FT) also scored in double figures for Virginia.
North Carolina entered Sunday’s contest tied for first in the ACC standings and had won the previous five matchups with the Cavaliers. Carolina was led by Reniya Kelly, who tallied 20 points in 40 minutes of action.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Tar Heels scored 11 straight points to open up a 19-7 lead in the opening quarter. Virginia had just four made field goals in the first, all of which were Johnson’s. North Carolina led 25-16 at the end of the first. Johnson tallied 10 of her 25 points in quarter No. 1.
After UVA had just four made field goals in the first, it was the Tar Heels who had only four makes in the second. The Cavaliers outscored UNC 21-9 in the second to grasp a 37-34 lead at the half. Brunelle, who finished one point shy of tying her season high, scored eight of her 14 points on 3-of-4 shooting in the second. Brunelle had two of UVA’s four made 3s in the second quarter.
Virginia claimed eight of the first 10 points to start the second half, including a heave by Johnson to beat the shot clock on the Hoos’ first possession of the third. Clarkson scored eight of her 10 total points in quarter No. 3 on two layups and four free throws. Both teams scored 23 points apiece in the third as the Hoos led 60-57 entering the fourth. Clarkson picked up three fouls in the quarter, but Edessa Noyan (5 pts, 3 blks) chipped in five points on one made 3 and a layup with 19 seconds left.
Noyan’s third block on the opening possession of the fourth set the tone for the Cavaliers defensively the rest of the way as UNC only made three field goals in the final period. UNC’s Deja Kelly knocked down two free throws to kick off scoring in the fourth and trim UVA’s lead to 60-59, but that was as close as the Heels would get. Brunelle buried two triples in quarter No. 4 as the Hoos scored the final seven points of the game. Like the second quarter, Virginia outscored UNC 21-9 in the fourth to pull away with the victory.
FROM HEAD COACH AMAKA AGUGUA-HAMILTON…
“I just couldn’t be more proud of our group. This was an emotional win. It was a great win. So many different people stepped up. We played together as a team. We bought in. We executed the game plan. We were poised. We didn’t panic when they went up. We just understood one possession at a time and just had some breakout performances. To do it in front of that crowd, I just want to say thank you to Wahoo Nation. That was amazing. It was electric in there. There was butts in seats everywhere. We really fed off of that. It allowed us to be confident in ourselves and, that’s why we were banking in shots. Because when you’re confident, you get those kinds of things. I’m just really proud that we did that in front of the fans, protected our home court, showed pride, played with pride in front of our alums. Yesterday was really powerful. We got to do an event with our alumni at night. During the day, they came to practice and really poured into our young women and student athletes, and they just shared their stories, shared their times they went through adversity, how they were successful and things they learned. It was just right on time. You are listening to people that are hanging in the rafters, and it was very impactful and powerful and left us very encouraged. I want to thank our alums for all the love and support they’ve been given us.”
WITH THE WIN…
- Virginia secured its second win of the season over a ranked opponent for the first time since 2016-17.
- The Cavaliers won their first ACC game of the season inside John Paul Jones Arena.
- UVA improved to 35-59 in the all-time series with the Tar Heels, which began in 1976, and snapped a five-game losing skid in the series.
- Virginia trailed by as many as 13 [29-16] with 7:51 to play in the first half. UVA’s 13-point comeback win marked its third of the season having overcome 15-point deficits against Tulane (Nov. 24) and Missouri (Nov. 30).
- Virginia shot 11 of 19 from 3-point range (58 percent), its best shooting percentage from beyond the arc this season.
- The last time UVA shot at least 58 percent from distance was on Dec. 2, 2017 against UNCG, when the Cavaliers went 9 for 15.
- The Cavaliers finished 22 for 28 at the charity stripe. UVA’s 28 free throw attempts are a season high.
- With a game-high 25 points Kymora Johnson has now led the Hoos in scoring in their last three games.
- Edessa Noyan finished with a career-high three blocks.
- Sam Brunelle finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including four made 3s, and posted seven rebounds. Her points are a season-best in an ACC game this year and were just one shy of tying her overall season high.
- In conjunction with the program’s Alumni Weekend, dozens of former players and former head coach Debbie Ryan were recognized at halftime to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the program, which was established in 1973.
- Virginia hosted a season-high 5,690 attendees at John Paul Jones Arena.
Virginia travels to Virginia Tech (16-4, 7-2, ACC), which is currently ranked 19th in this week’s AP top-25 poll, for a Smithfield Commonwealth Clash. Tipoff from Cassell Coliseum is set for 6 p.m. on ACC Network.
Postgame: Head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton
Postgame: Kymora Johnson and Sam Brunelle