Virginia women’s basketball lost to Wake Forest 68-53 Sunday afternoon. The Cavaliers (3-19, 0-13 ACC) struggled early on, but found their footing and came back to take the lead in the third quarter. However, Virginia could not maintain their success for the full game, with the Demon Deacons (13-12, 3-11 ACC) winning the fourth quarter 20-8.
Sophomore guard Mir McLean and junior forward London Clarkson led the scoring for the Cavaliers with 11 points each. A Connecticut transfer, McLean has been great for the Cavaliers and is averaging 11.3 points per game and 7.2 rebounds since coming to Charlottesville mid-season. She also had 11 rebounds to complete her first career double-double.
The game started with both teams trading baskets early, with senior forward Eleah Parker tying the game at six with 5:23 left in the first quarter. A pair of Wake Forest three-pointers on back-to-back possessions from junior forward Olivia Summiel and sophomore guard Jewel Spear began a 15-6 run, giving the Demon Deacons a 21-12 advantage going into the second quarter. Spear led the game with 17 points. She is averaging 19.2 points on the year.
The second quarter proved to be very competitive, with both teams coming out scoring early. The Cavaliers narrowed the lead to six points when graduate student guard Amandine Toi hit a three-point jumper with 6:01 left in the half. Wake Forest was quick to take back a bigger lead, scoring five points on their next two possessions capped off by a three-point jumper from Summiel. Virginia scored the last four points of the half and the Demon Deacons led 36-29 going into the half.
The Cavaliers came out of halftime determined to get back in the game and they did just that. Virginia scored the opening nine points of the half, quickly taking a two-point lead halfway through the third quarter. Wake Forest scored their first points of the half with 5:03 left in the quarter on a pair of free throws from senior guard Christina Morra. Later in the quarter, a three-pointer from Toi gave the Cavaliers their largest lead of the night at 43-40 with all momentum going Virginia’s direction. Wake Forest was able to rebound and went on an 8-2 run to end the quarter. The Cavaliers trailed 45-48 going into the final quarter.
The Demon Deacons were able to slowly pull away to put the game away in the final quarter. Layups on back-to-back possessions for junior guard Alexandria Scruggs gave the Demon Deacons a seven-point lead. Virginia hit a couple of shots in the fourth quarter, but could not go on the run they needed to win the game. Wake Forest was excellent, hitting their free throws down the stretch, which allowed the team to build a big lead at the end of the game and ultimately hold a 15 point edge when the final buzzer sounded. They went an impressive 18-23 – 78.3 percent – from the free-throw line.
Both teams had a tough time outside the three-point arc on the day, with Virginia shooting 15.8 percent and Wake Forest going 25 percent from three-point range. The Cavaliers out-rebounded the Demon Deacons 36-34.
It was the fourth quarter that ultimately doomed the Cavaliers Sunday afternoon. They have struggled with consistency all year, largely leading to their 0-13 record in ACC play.
“It seems like there's always one quarter in each game where it's a deciding factor for us,” Coach Tina Thompson said. “I mean, the things that we are doing when we're at our best in the game are what is necessary in order for us to put ourselves in a position to win. We just haven't found a way to do that from start to finish.”
The Cavaliers come back home to play Miami at John Paul Jones Area Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The game will air live on ACC Network Extra.