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Virginia women’s basketball loses a nail-biter to Georgia Tech

The game came down to the last shot, but the Cavaliers ultimately couldn’t get the job done

<p>Fifth Year forward Camryn Taylor poured in 19 points in the Cavaliers' loss Thursday</p>

Fifth Year forward Camryn Taylor poured in 19 points in the Cavaliers' loss Thursday

Virginia women’s basketball traveled to Atlanta, Ga. to take on Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion Thursday night. The Cavaliers (8-5, 0-2 ACC) were coming off of a Sunday defeat to No. 3 NC State in which they led at halftime, while the Yellow Jackets (10-4, 1-1) had their four-game win streak snapped Dec. 29 in a loss in their conference opener against Florida State. With both teams hungry to get back to winning ways, the game came down to the last shot and was largely a back and forth affair, but Virginia ultimately lost the game 63-60. 

Graduate student forward Camryn Taylor started the game off strong for the Cavaliers. She opened the scoring 19 seconds into the game with a turnaround jump shot in the paint — then came a layup on the next possession following a steal from graduate student forward London Clarkson. Virginia would end up stealing the ball 12 times throughout the game, a mark they hadn’t hit since their Dec. 6 victory against Rider. 

The Cavaliers held the lead until sophomore guard Kara Dunn hit a jump shot from beyond the arc to even the score at eight. Dunn was a problem for Virginia all night, as she would finish with 24 points and six rebounds. 

Dunn’s shot sparked a 9-0 run for Georgia Tech, but the Cavaliers finished the quarter strong and were only down 14-13 at the end of the first period. 

The second quarter scoring took awhile to get going, but with eight minutes and 25 seconds left in the half, sophomore guard Tonie Morgan drew a foul and sunk both of her free throw attempts. One of Virginia’s biggest problems all night was their tendency to foul, as they allowed 33 Yellow Jackets free throw attempts. 

With four minutes and eight seconds remaining in the quarter, sophomore guard Paris Clark stole the ball from Dunn and quickly drove to the basket for the bucket. This ignited a 6-0 run for the Cavaliers, and with just over a minute remaining, it looked like Virginia would walk into halftime with the lead. 

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, they allowed the Yellow Jackets to get to the line twice and also surrendered a second-chance layup, resulting in a halftime deficit of 27-24.  

Immediately after halftime, both sides improved their offensive efficiency. The scoring surge began with an impressive fadeaway shot by freshman guard Rusne Augustinaite. Taylor followed that up with a well-executed mid-range shot of her own. 

The intensity was replicated on the defensive end by Clark, who delivered an outstanding play by blocking Morgan’s layup attempt. This marked just her fourth block of the season. Unfortunately, Georgia Tech quickly capitalized on a turnover and grew their lead to seven points — the largest of the game. 

This prompted Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton to call a timeout and implement a pressing strategy for her team. This change immediately disrupted the Georgia Tech offense, leading to a steal by freshman guard Kymora Johnson. Although Johnson’s layup attempt was thwarted by a travel violation, the decision to press had already showcased its disruptive potential. 

The defensive pressure continued to cause problems for the Yellow Jackets. Augustinaite found herself trapped between three Virginia defenders, forcing a jump ball that favored the Cavaliers. 

Clarkson then had her way at the rim, making a shot to tie the game at 41. Moments later, Clarkson found herself with the ball under the basket again, securing another crucial shot to give Virginia their first lead of the second half. After a series of made baskets by both sides, the game was deadlocked 48-48 entering the last period. 

In the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers struggled with preventable mistakes. With just over six minutes remaining in the game, Clark turned the ball over on a traveling violation, the Cavaliers’ second of the quarter. Fortunately, a minute later, Virginia was able to put an end to their dry spell of over three minutes as Clark grabbed her own rebound off an initial miss and banked it in to tie the game. 

With four minutes remaining, however, the Cavaliers took a big hit, as Clarkson fouled out. She had been huge for Virginia in keeping the game close, so this was an impactful loss. 

Nevertheless, Johnson swiftly shifted the momentum by grabbing the inbound pass, sprinting up the court and sinking a layup. On the next possession, she executed a stop and pop shot, cutting the lead to just one point with three minutes and 26 seconds remaining. 

Then, the fouls began. In the remaining three minutes, the Cavaliers would commit four fouls, allowing Georgia Tech to make six shots from the free throw line. 

But the Cavaliers still had a chance. Down three points with 20 seconds left, they faced the decision of going for a quick two-point field goal or trying to tie the game with a three point attempt — they went with the latter. Unfortunately, Virginia could not get a good look and Johnson heaved up a fadeaway attempt that missed the mark, ending the game. 

Missed three-point attempts were the story all game for the Cavaliers, who made just one of their 16 shots from beyond the arc. With conference games coming thick and fast in the new year, Virginia will need to regain its confidence from the three-point line if the Cavaliers are to dig out of the 0-2 hole they currently find themselves in. 


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