The Virginia women’s basketball team traveled across state lines Dec. 19 to take on No. 2 NC State in its ACC opener. Graduate guard Amandine Toi was the star for the Cavaliers (3-8, 0-1 ACC), leading the scoresheet with 20 points, shooting a stellar 57.1 percent from the field. The Wolfpack (11-2, 2-0), one of the best squads in the country and the conference favorite, had help from all over with 11 players scoring and three scoring in double-digits.
The Wolfpack were quick to get out in front early, jumping out to an early 8-2 lead with 7:22 left in the first quarter. The Cavaliers responded accordingly and lessened the lead to one with a three-pointer from Toi and a pair of layups from Toi and junior guard Taylor Valladay. NC State slowly managed to extend its lead again with a 7-0 run amid a Virginia shooting slump.
The Cavaliers’ resiliency was on display at the end of the quarter after a scoring drought that lasted over three minutes. Two three-point baskets from Toi and sophomore guard Kaydan Lawson brought the score to 19-15 in favor of the Wolfpack going into the second quarter.
NC State put on a shooting clinic in the second quarter. The team went on a strong run, draining nine out of 12 field goal attempts with help from junior center Camille Hobby and graduate guard Raina Perez, who both posted eight points on the scoresheet.
After the two teams exchanged layups on their first possessions of the quarter, the Wolfpack went on a 14-2 run to extend their lead to 35-19. However, a couple of three-point jumpers from Lawson and junior forward Camryn Taylor gave way to a 12-5 run for the Cavaliers, making it only a single-digit lead for NC State once again.
This was one of two baskets for Taylor, who shot just 15.3 percent from the field. A layup on the Wolfpack’s final possession of the second quarter gave them a 42-31 lead going into the break.
Junior guard Carole Miller hit a three-point jumper to open the scoring in the third quarter for the Cavaliers and narrowed the lead to eight. However, Virginia could not capitalize on this momentum and it allowed the Wolfpack to slowly build a big lead throughout the quarter.
Senior center Elissa Cunane continued her impressive showing for the Wolfpack with eight points in the quarter. NC State outscored the Cavaliers 19-12 in the third and managed a commanding 61-43 lead going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was more of the same from each team. The Wolfpack were able to consistently score, while Virginia seemed to be making one shot for every two of NC State’s. The final basket, a three-pointer from freshman guard Aziaha James with 2:02 left, gave the Wolfpack an 82-55 win over the Cavaliers. Throughout the game, the Cavaliers seemed to not be able to capitalize off of some of their big shots.
“Little by little they were just chipping away at it, making shots here and there,” Coach Tina Thompson said. “And even though we were getting stops and making runs, we kept allowing them to kind of be a little comfortable and do some of the things that they do well, and that's your game.”
A bright spot for the Cavaliers was their shooting beyond the arc. They shot an impressive nine for 20, or 45 percent, on three-pointers.
“In the ACC, in order to win games, playing defense is not enough,” Thompson said. “You have to be able to score the ball too and then there's no off night in the ACC. So making shots is definitely a good thing for us.”
Virginia headed home to take on Notre Dame Thursday at 7 p.m., broadcast on ACC Network Extra.