The woes that have lurked over conference play for Virginia (14-8, 3-8 ACC) continued Sunday with a 72-60 loss to rival No. 13 Virginia Tech (17-4, 7-4 ACC) in the Smithfield Commonwealth Clash at John Paul Jones Arena. The most recent loss plunged the Cavaliers into a four-game losing streak as Coach Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton and her team seem to be drifting further and further from their prime performance early in the season.
Virginia entered the game with a 51-15 all-time record against the Hokies, but this season’s first matchup between the two teams resulted in a 74-66 loss for Virginia. With Virginia Tech ranked 12th headed into Sunday’s matchup, this meeting was sure to present the Cavaliers with one of their biggest challenges yet this season.
The difference was evident from the jump. The Cavaliers leapt out to an early five-point lead, but the Hokies immediately retaliated with 12 unanswered points including consecutive three-pointers from senior guard Cayla King. At the end of the first quarter, the Cavaliers trailed 26-13 despite solid performances from senior guard Taylor Valladay and senior forward London Clarkson, who had six points and four points respectively.
Clarkson continued her great play in the second quarter, scoring on a layup with 7:44 left in the half. The quarter began and ended with senior forward Camryn Taylor, however, as the Cavaliers’ leading scorer dropped eleven points to bring Virginia to within six points of the Hokies going into the half.
Clarkson and Taylor both added four points in the third quarter, but the Hokies matched them blow for blow thanks to excellent offensive play from graduate forward Taylor Soule and senior center Elizabeth Kitley. Going into the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech was clinging onto a 48-41 lead.
It was much of the same for Virginia in the fourth quarter. Clarkson added yet another five points to her total and Taylor contributed seven more points as well. However, the Cavaliers could not overcome the deficit accrued in the first quarter, and the Hokies finished the game off comfortably with a 12-point win.
“The first quarter and moving into the beginning of the second quarter kind of killed us,” Coach Mox said. “We punched early, they punched back, and we just didn’t respond for a little bit.”
Despite the unfavorable outcome, the Cavaliers did have multiple bright spots on Sunday night. Clarkson had her second straight 15-point game and Taylor continued her fantastic season with her second 20-point game in a row. Taylor is currently ranked 9th in the ACC in scoring.
Coach Mox and her squad will look to right the ship Thursday with an away game against a talented No. 11 North Carolina. The game will air at 6 p.m. on the ACC Regional Sports Networks.