After a 70-54 win at home against Clemson, Virginia lost a nail-biting match-up on the road against No. 17 Florida State 63-55. Jocelyn Willoughby, senior guard and perennial team star, averaged 20.0 points over the two-game stretch while freshmen guards Carole Miller and Shemera Williams also had standout performances.
Both teams came out shooting poorly in Thursday’s match-up. In the first quarter, Virginia (10-14, 5-8 ACC) held a 10-6 lead over Clemson (7-17, 3-10 ACC), as the Cavaliers executed well on the defensive end while struggling to score. Virginia shot just 27 percent in the first quarter, connecting on just one of five three-pointers in the period. Clemson did not fare much better, scoring their six first-quarter points while shooting three out of ten from the field, missing all three-point attempts and their lone free throw in the period.
Both teams turned up their offensive efficiency in the second quarter. In what’s becoming a theme for this Virginia team, the Cavaliers opened up the second quarter on a scoring run — opening up a sizable lead over the Tigers early on. Clemson responded, however, reversing their cold-shooting first quarter too. The Tigers made both three-pointers they shot in the quarter and got to the throw line four times, connecting three times to close out a 17-point quarter.
The Cavaliers were on their heels as Clemson closed Virginia’s lead to just three points, though they quickly regained momentum going into halftime as Willoughby netted a last-second midrange jump shot to push the lead back up to five points. Virginia would build on this lead for the rest of the game.
Virginia shot 42 percent on three pointers and 50 percent from the field in a 42-point second half that saw many more drives to the basket rather than jumpshots. The Cavaliers tamed many of the Tigers’ comeback attempts by repeatedly getting to the free throw line and gaining points on free throws — Virginia connected on 11 of 13 foul shots in the second half, finishing the game with a score of 70-54.
While Willoughby contributed 21 points on 53 percent shooting, Virginia was fueled by a season-best performance from Miller. The freshman finished with 19 points, four rebounds and shot 58 percent in 26 minutes of play.
Senior guard Dominique Toussaint had one of the best all-around efforts of the night, dishing out seven assists, grabbing six rebounds and knocking down a trio of three-pointers as part of a 13-point scoring effort.
Virginia could not convert its offensive momentum into a win Sunday against Florida State (20-4, 9-4 ACC). Facing off at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla., the Seminoles quickly kept Virginia from establishing an offensive rhythm by maintaining possession on their own offensive end and controlling the tempo of the game early through strong offensive rebounding.
Virginia started off cold from beyond the arc and could not penetrate the ball into the paint to slow down the pace of the game. Virginia did not make a three-pointer or free throw in the first quarter, which left the Cavaliers trailing 10-18 at the end of the quarter.
Virginia quickly rebounded and played more aggressively in the second quarter — the Cavaliers knocked down seven of eight free throws while their outside shot was still not falling. Virginia scored the first nine points of the quarter and took a 19-18 lead early on before the Seminoles rallied and went on their own scoring run. Florida State again outshot Virginia with more offensive rebounds resulting in six more shot attempts that allowed the Seminoles to match Virginia’s 15 points in the quarter while shooting just 32 percent.
Coming in to the second half down 33-25, Virginia needed to step up its shot-making to counteract the Seminoles’ sheer size in the paint and rebounding skills. However, the Cavaliers’ shots were not falling, as Virginia shot just 27 percent from the field and had just three good looks from the three-point line, only knocking down one.
The Cavaliers were able to hold the Seminoles to just eight points in the third quarter thanks to great ball switches and by changing to a match-up zone in the second half to force Florida State into more jumpshots. The Seminoles adjusted, however, and completely flipped the switch in the fourth quarter.
While Virginia came out cold in the last period of play, Florida State mounted a small run to get their lead back to double-digits through the midway part of the quarter. The Cavaliers then cut the lead down to five before the two sides traded baskets going into the final two minutes of the game. Virginia was able to cut the deficit down to just four points in the final minute, but the Seminoles quickly scored a layup to make their lead insurmountable.
Willoughby and Williams led the Cavaliers in scoring with 19 and 12 points, respectively, while Williams’ all-around performance included four rebounds and four assists in one of the freshman’s best outings of the season.
The Cavaliers will look to close out the last handful of games strong before the ACC Tournament in March. Up next, Virginia hosts Miami Thursday at John Paul Jones Arena at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ACC Network Extra.