Coming off a big thirty-point win over Notre Dame at home, Virginia women’s basketball could not string together another win at Carmichael Arena against North Carolina. The Cavaliers (8-13, 3-7 ACC) fell behind early to the Tar Heels (15-6, 6-4 ACC). Despite an explosive second half performance, Virginia was unable to mount a successful comeback.
In stark contrast to Virginia’s first half play against Notre Dame, the Cavaliers struggled both offensively and defensively, giving North Carolina the opportunity to take advantage of the slow start. Virginia kept the game close in the first five minutes, but the Tar Heels ended the quarter with a 10-1 run to stretch their lead by 13 with a score of 21-8.
The deficit expanded further in the second quarter, and North Carolina’s strong offensive play led to a 22-point lead to close out the first half. Entering halftime, the Cavaliers were down 43-21.
“Everything went wrong in that first half. We did nothing we were supposed to,” Coach Tina Thompson said. “We are a defensive-minded team, and we just did not guard. Offensively, we took quick shots against a transition team. If you take quick shots, then you are playing into what they want to do — get into transition.”
To start the third period, the trend continued, and the Tar Heels built up their largest lead of the game with 6:12 remaining in the quarter. The 28-point lead came off of North Carolina’s six-for-six shooting from the field.
Virginia had enough. The Cavaliers went on a much needed 12-2 run to close out the period led by senior forward Lisa Jablonowski, senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby and freshman guard Shemera Williams.
The Cavaliers’ momentum carried over into the fourth quarter. Willoughby and Williams fueled Virginia’s opening 9-3 run to narrow North Carolina’s lead to 12.
Virginia continued to put pressure on North Carolina for the remainder of the game. The Cavaliers’ offensive attack was led by redshirt freshman guard Amandine Toi, who made three three-point field goals in the final five minutes of the last period.
Despite Virginia’s efforts, North Carolina never allowed its lead to dip below 10 points, and the game concluded with a final score of 78-68.
Plagued by moments of poor shooting and defensive lapses, the Cavaliers shot 36.4 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three-point. Moments of offensive scoring from Toi and Willoughby show great promise for future matchups but will need to last all four quarters in the future.
The inconsistencies continue for this team. While Virginia was down 22 points in the first half, it outscored the Tar Heels by 12 points in the second. Even more troubling was that the Cavaliers scored more points in the fourth quarter than they did all first half.
“The moral victories, I am so over it,” Thompson said. “These need to turn into wins. We need to start the games in the first half the way we finish in the second half.”
Virginia looks to rebound Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena against Syracuse.