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Women’s basketball drops fifth in a row to North Carolina

The slide against conference opponents continued Thursday in Chapel Hill

<p>Graduate student guard McKenna Dale was a rebound away from a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing nine boards.</p>

Graduate student guard McKenna Dale was a rebound away from a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing nine boards.

The Virginia women’s basketball team continued to struggle Thursday as it faced yet another highly ranked ACC opponent. The Cavaliers (14-9, 3-9 ACC) — who were without graduate forward Sam Brunelle out with a foot injury — traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C. where they fell to No. 11 North Carolina (17-5, 8-3 ACC) 73-62.

The loss marks the fifth consecutive defeat for Virginia and the seventh straight time the Tar Heels have bested the Cavaliers dating back to 2018.

In a low scoring first quarter, Virginia was able to have some success on the defensive end, forcing six North Carolina turnovers and holding the Tar Heels to just 3-10 shooting. Despite the Tar Heels’ frosty start, the Cavaliers still trailed 9-8 after the first period of play.

Virginia’s inability to grab an early lead came back to bite them in the second quarter as North Carolina came out scorching hot. The Tar Heels knocked down nine of their first 10 shots, breaking the game open with a 15-2 run. Eight different North Carolina players got on the board in the second quarter as the Tar Heels were able to build a 12-point lead going into the half.

After North Carolina scored the first four points of the third quarter, senior forward London Clarkson provided a spark for the Cavaliers with back-to-back buckets. Shortly after, graduate student guard McKenna Dale knocked down a pair of three-pointers, capping a 12-4 run that pulled Virginia back within double-digits. The Cavaliers’ comeback efforts would stop there, however, as the Tar Heels muscled their way back to a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

North Carolina continued to extend its lead in the fourth — building it to as much as 18 — as they coasted down the stretch. The Tar Heels were 7-12 from the field in the final period. A late 6-2 run from the Cavaliers in the final two minutes was not enough to overcome the scoring droughts faced throughout the game.

Clarkson led all Virginia scorers with a career-high 23 points and Dale added 15 to go along with a team-high 9 rebounds. Senior forward Camryn Taylor also had a solid evening with 10 points and 7 rebounds but dealt with foul trouble throughout the game.

“Losing five games in a row is frustrating,” Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said. “But there were some positives to take away from this on the road to a ranked team. We have to keep getting better.”

The Tar Heels were just too much to handle Thursday. North Carolina shot 53.06 percent from the field, got to the free-throw line 23 times and picked the Cavaliers apart in transition. However, there is reason to believe the conference slide may end soon. 

Virginia will try to put an end to their losing streak this Sunday when they travel to Pittsburgh for a matchup with the last-place Panthers (7-15, 0-11 ACC). The game begins at 5 p.m. with coverage on ACC Network.