Coming off of a couple huge victories in the past couple weeks, Virginia women’s basketball looked to carry the momentum forward at Cassell Coliseum Thursday against archrival Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers (10-11, 2-8 ACC) were aided by strong performances from freshman guard Kymora Johnson and sophomore guard Paris Clark, however those were not enough to overcome the No. 17 Hokies (17-4, 8-2 ACC), who cruised to a 76-63 victory.
Although the opening points were scored by Virginia, Virginia Tech took control soon after with graduate student center Elizabeth Kitley making her presence known and opening the scoring for the Hokies. While Virginia Tech went up, the margin was never out of reach as the Cavaliers continued to stay in the game, with Johnson going on a tear and scoring 12 points in the first quarter alone. Johnson’s three-pointer at the buzzer put Virginia down by three points with a score of 21-18. Kitley led the way for the Hokies in the opening frame, scoring 10 points and nabbing six rebounds as well as being an imposing presence in the paint.
The half continued much the same way with Virginia Tech maintaining the lead but the Cavaliers keeping themselves in the game. Kitley and Johnson both continued to put on a show for their respective teams, with Kitley finishing the half with a near double-double with 20 points and eight rebounds. Johnson slowed down slightly in the second quarter but still finished the half strong, scoring 15 points and going three for four from beyond the arc.
Aside from Johnson, Virginia struggled to find scorers, with the next best contributor being Clark who finished the half with eight points. The Hokies shot an impressive 50 percent from the field and 35 percent from three, as well as scoring 15 second chance points. The Cavaliers boasted similar marks, shooting 41 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. But Virginia’s shots came on lower volume than did Virginia Tech’s, so while the Cavaliers were efficient, their inability to get as many shots up hindered them from being able to nick the lead from the Hokies.
The beginning of the second half was right when the Hokies began to pull away from Virginia. Kitley scored six of eight straight points for Virginia Tech which allowed them to build their lead up to 17, their largest of the game thus far.
The third quarter ended with a score of 63-46, as the Cavaliers’ defense was wearing down while the Hokies’ offense strung together strong offensive possessions. Virginia seemingly had a lid on their basket, shooting a woeful two for 14 from the field in the third quarter, allowing Virginia Tech to outscore them 17-5 for the period.
The Cavaliers fared only slightly better in the fourth quarter, and it was not enough to put them back into the game. The Hokies stretched their lead as large as 19 points, but the score finalized at a 13-point difference with a score of 76-63.
Johnson and Clark combined for 40 of Virginia’s 63 points in the contest, and while it’s always a good thing to get big offensive nights from multiple players, the Cavaliers’ supporting cast must play near the same level if they want to push for success in 2024. Virginia Tech had three scorers in double digits, led by Kitley’s massive double-double of 33 points and 18 rebounds.
Virginia seemed to have been coming alive as of late with a recent big win over No. 24 North Carolina, but this double digit defeat has been the story for the majority of ACC play. The Hokies are a strong team, but the season will be in danger if this talented Virginia team isn’t able to string together a good chunk of wins against difficult opponents in the coming weeks.
The Cavaliers will look to do just that starting Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena when they welcome Clemson. The game will tip off at 4 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on ACC Network.