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Virginia falls to North Carolina, No. 9 NC State

The Cavaliers are riding a four-game losing streak

<p>Freshman guard Shemera Williams recorded 12 points against North Carolina.</p>

Freshman guard Shemera Williams recorded 12 points against North Carolina.

The Virginia women’s basketball team came up short against conference foes North Carolina Thursday at John Paul Jones Arena and N.C. State Sunday in Raleigh, N.C. The Tar Heels (11-3, 2-1 ACC) beat the Cavaliers (5-9, 0-3 ACC) 65-47 behind a strong second quarter and Virginia fell to the No. 9 Wolfpack (14-0, 3-0 ACC) 80-60, despite stellar play from senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby.

Against North Carolina, Virginia got out to an early lead in the first quarter behind the play of freshman guard Shemera Williams and senior forward Lisa Jablonowski. In the second quarter, however, North Carolina outscored Virginia 25-6 and headed into halftime with a 36-22 lead. Jablonowski was the sole Virginia scorer in the period. 

“We lost that game in the second quarter,” Coach Tina Thompson said. “They outscored us by 19 and we lost this game by 19. That was our demise.”

The Cavaliers began to cut the deficit in the fourth quarter but ultimately ran out of time. Senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby led a 9-0 run in the first half of the period with five points to close the gap to 55-43, but North Carolina recovered to win the game 65-47.

After starting the game in the first quarter with a 50 percent field goal percentage, Virginia hit just 31.8 percent of its shots for the remainder of the game. The Cavaliers were also only able to connect on three of its 14 three-point attempts. On the defensive end of the floor, Virginia lacked its stout, consistent defensive pressure.

With no bench contributors on offense, few points off turnovers, a low shooting percentage and sluggish defense, Virginia couldn’t overcome a quality North Carolina team that made fewer mistakes. 

After falling to North Carolina, Virginia traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to face N.C. State in Reynolds Coliseum Sunday.

From tip-off, N.C. State held and maintained the lead. However, Virginia hung around with 60 percent three-point shooting in the first quarter. The quarter ended with Virginia down just 23-17.

To start the second quarter, the Cavaliers maintained their hot hand and cut the lead to four with 7:32 in the period. However, N.C. State quickly countered Virginia’s momentum with a 13-2 run. The Cavaliers responded to end the half, however, and went into the break down 10.

While the second half got off to an even start, the Wolfpack mounted a 16-0 run from 6:04 to 3:16 left in the quarter and built up an insurmountable 26-point lead. The Cavaliers closed the third quarter down by 20, the same deficit as the final score.

N.C. State recorded a higher shooting percentage — 49.1 to 41.2 — and out-rebounded Virginia 38-25.

"It was a tough game,” said Thompson. “This is a really, really tough team. They shot the ball extremely well. Even though we had some extreme bright spots defensively, they have so many people, especially that inside game, that can score … It is not the easiest guard, but I thought we played tough.”

Virginia showed flashes of excellence against the conference’s undefeated leader. Willoughby earned player of the game by scoring nine of the second quarter’s 11 points for a total of 25, just one point shy of N.C. State sophomore center Elissa Cunane’s game-high tally.

The Cavaliers return to action tonight at John Paul Jones Arena against Duke looking to earn their first win in ACC play this season.