This past week, Virginia hosted the Cavalier Classic at John Paul Jones Arena and a home clash against William & Mary, falling to Rhode Island and Richmond at the Cavalier Classic over the weekend and downing the Tribe Thursday. While the Cavaliers (2-6, 0-0 ACC) have shown flashes of improvement, they have still been unable to piece together a complete game as ACC play approaches.
Against Rhode Island:
Their first game of the Cavalier Classic took place Nov. 26, as the Cavaliers took on Rhode Island (7-2, 0-0 A-10). The Cavaliers fell to the Rams 80-70 in a game that saw Rhode Island pull away in the second half after the contest remained very close until halfway through the third quarter.
The Rams got off to a great start, building a 14-6 lead in the first quarter with the help of three point baskets from freshman guard Emmi Rinat and sophomore guard Yanni Hendley. The Cavaliers responded quickly with an 8-0 run sparked by a layup from junior forward Camryn Taylor that broke the long scoring drought. Taylor finished with her season high 22 points on the day. Two free throws from senior guard Chanell Williams put the Rams up 16-14 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
After both teams exchanged a few baskets at the beginning of the second quarter, a three-point jumper from sophomore guard Kaydan Lawson gave the Cavaliers their first lead since early in the first quarter. The Cavaliers would add another point onto their lead and go into the break up 35-33.
The second half scoring was kicked off with a layup from senior forward Eleah Parker, but a strong few minutes from the opposing team saw the Rams go on 11-3 run and build a four-point lead. Rhode Island capitalized on its momentum and scored 10 of the quarter’s final 13 points and had a 56-48 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Two early fourth-quarter baskets from senior guard Desiree Elmore helped build the Rams largest lead of the day at 12. Although the Cavaliers were not able to come back, both Taylor and graduate student guard Amandine Toi had strong fourth quarters.
On the day, the Cavaliers shot 44.6 percent from the field and an impressive 50 percent from beyond the arc. Virginia was outrebounded 32-29, but it did get 11 offensive boards to Rhode Island’s six.
Notably, Rhode Island shot a remarkable 44 free throws in the game.
“I don’t think that I’ve ever been a part of a game where a team shoots more free throws than actual field goals attempted,” Coach Tina Thompson said.
Nonetheless, Thompson was proud of the team’s continued determination despite the difficult loss.
“I am proud of the fact that my kids continued to fight,” Thompson said. “We just had a really tough battle in the sense that as physical as we are, and as much as we go inside, to have a 20 free throw deficit, it’s just I’ve just never seen it. I’m really disappointed.”
The intrastate matchup between Richmond (4-3, 0-0 A-10) and Virginia on Nov. 28 marked the second and final game of the Cavalier Classic for each team. A strong second-half performance had the Spiders coming out on top of Virginia 74-65.
Junior guard Carole Miller started the scoring for the Cavaliers on the first possession of the game. The Spiders were quick to respond, going on a 9-0 run. The Cavaliers chipped away at the six-point lead to eventually tie the game at 16 with a three-point jumper from senior guard Mckenna Dale. Two free throws from senior guard Claire Holt gave the Spiders a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Two baskets from Toi and Taylor gave the Cavaliers the lead early in the second quarter. With 5:27 left in the quarter, a three-point jumper from senior guard Aniyah Carpenter gave Richmond a 26-24 lead. The Spiders would never give up the lead and built their lead to 38-30 at the half.
For the entirety of the second half, neither team could get a lot of momentum. Midway through the third quarter, Richmond built an 11-point lead off a three-point basket from senior forward Emma Squires.
The lead dwindled in the fourth quarter for the Spiders, with the Cavaliers coming within two points with a pair of free throws from Taylor. However, a 13-6 run to end the game from the Spiders gave them the ultimate edge.
Virginia shot 38 percent from the field to Richmond’s 52 percent, but where the Spiders really had the edge was from beyond the arc. Richmond went almost 43 percent from three-point range to Virginia’s 22.2 percent.
Leading the scoring for Virginia was Toi. She tied her season-high 20 points and went 9-15 from the field, despite going 0-5 from beyond the arc. Taylor and Lawson also scored double-digit points.
“Consistency is our kryptonite right now,” Thompson said. We have these moments where we’re playing at a high level but it’s going to require us, in order to get wins, to play at that level from start to finish.”
Against William and Mary:
The Virginia women’s basketball team took down in-state foe William & Mary (4-3, 0-0 CAA) Thursday by a score of 60-44. The Cavaliers were dominant on both sides of the court, holding the Tribe to just 26.4 percent from the field and outrebounding the Tribe 44-35.
Toi had an amazing performance for the Cavaliers, where at times it felt like she could not miss. She went 7-11 from the field and an impressive 4-7 from beyond the arc on her day, finishing with 18 points.
The Cavaliers came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, going on an 11-6 run to begin the game. On this run, Toi hit three-point jumpers on back-to-back possessions in a thrilling run in which Virginia scored eight points in a one-minute span.
The Tribe were quick to respond with a 6-0 run and took a one-point lead with 4:21 left in the first quarter. This was the last time the Tribe led. A jumper from junior forward London Clarkson combined with a three-point basket from Miller sparked a 7-0 Virginia run to make the Cavaliers’ lead 18-12 going into the break.
In the second quarter, the Cavaliers ramped up their press man-to-man defense, allowing the Tribe to only score six points in the 10-minute period. Taylor had the play of the game with a step-back jumper with 6:43 left in the quarter to expand the Cavalier lead to eight. William & Mary would score a couple of baskets to lessen the lead before halftime, but the Cavaliers still entered the break up 28-18.
Virginia carried their momentum from the first half and got off to a red-hot start after the break. A 12-0 run to begin the half, catalyzed by an electric eight points in a row scored by Toi, extended the Virginia lead to 22. Both teams exchanged baskets for the rest of the quarter, and the Cavaliers led 51-27 going into the fourth.
The Tribe were able to lessen the deficit in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Cavaliers 17-9. Despite the poor overall offensive performance from the team in the fourth quarter, Taylor got going scoring seven of the team’s nine points.
Along with Toi, Taylor and Clarkson scored double-digit points with 14 and 10, respectively. With 12 rebounds, Taylor put up her first double-double of the year.
All night the Cavalier defense was swarming William & Mary’s offense, preventing them from going on any runs or building momentum.
“I’m really excited for our kids in the sense that they had a different kind of bounce to them tonight and a different focus as far as our execution, our defensive schemes, as well as offensively,” Thompson said.
Junior guard Taylor Valladay’s performance on defense, while it may not show up in the box score, was superb. She successfully guarded one of the Tribe’s leading scorers, senior guard Sydney Wagner, and held her to just six points. Throughout the game, she limited Wagner’s passing and shooting ability.
“We are working and we know that we're a work in progress and it's gonna take a lot of attention to detail and a consistent high level of work,” Thompson said. “Each day we're improving and I'm just really excited for them.”
The Cavaliers will travel to Washington, D.C. Sunday to take on George Washington with hopes to win back-to-back games for the first time in their 2021-2022 campaign. The game will air live on ESPN+ and tip-off is set for 2 p.m.