Home Women’s Basketball: Virginia bounces back from Wofford loss, drills Fordham

Women’s Basketball: Virginia bounces back from Wofford loss, drills Fordham

Scott Ratcliffe
uva basketball
Photo: UVA Athletics

There was a video circulating on social media just a few hours prior to Virginia’s tipoff with Fordham in its final non-conference matchup of the regular season on Thursday. In it, Cavalier players and staff members could be seen drilling shots — one after another — from halfcourt, with several making it look easy.

Catching fire from way downtown in shootaround carried over to game time, as UVA (8-3) torched the nets against the Rams at John Paul Jones Arena en route to a 82-56 bounceback win. The Hoos sank a dozen 3-pointers, 10 of them by halftime, and led by as many as 38 points in the blowout win.

It was precisely what head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton was hoping to see going into the Christmas break, at least through the majority of the contest, after failing to get the job done in the previous outing against Wofford.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Coach Mox. “I thought we responded in every way we needed to. There were so many great things about this game and a lot of people were, even on the radio, they were just talking about stats. But what I was most proud about was our synergy and our camaraderie and our togetherness, and just pushing through adversity and pushing through when things didn’t go our way or whatever. Just staying together. I thought that we had tremendous growth in that area.”

Virginia was red-hot early and often, shooting a blistering 55 percent from deep (12-for-22) for the game and 53 percent (31-for-58) overall, and did a considerable amount of damage on the defensive end, scoring 21 points off of 20 Fordham turnovers.

“We took great shots,” Coach Mox said. “We had 21 assists on 31 baskets because we took great shots. When we were open, we took them or we created an opening for ourselves or we just created something for our teammates. So I just think overall, our shot selection was great, our confidence was great and we were able to knock down 12 3s, which is amazing.”

First-year point guard Kymora Johnson led the charge, pouring in a career-high 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including knocking down 6 of her 7 attempts from behind the 3-point line. Johnson also recorded a game-high 7 assists, hauled in 5 rebounds and had 2 steals across 35 minutes, turning the ball over just once.

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said Johnson of her best game yet. “I think, like Coach said, the past couple of days, we’ve been really working on camaraderie… my shots weren’t falling in previous games and my team has really just instilled confidence in me and they just had been telling me to keep shooting, and that’s what I did.”

Paris Clark had another impressive performance, contributing 15 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, while Cam Taylor added 10 points, a pair of blocks and a game-high 8 rebounds. Sam Brunelle was back in the starting five, but didn’t play in the second half after landing awkwardly on the baseline in the first half. She finished with 3 points (1-for-3 FG, all from long range) and 3 rebounds across 15 minutes.

The Hoos started the game on an 18-0 run and led 27-7 after the opening quarter, sinking 7 of their first 13 from downtown to extend the lead to 36-9 by the 7:47 mark of the second quarter.

Kaydan Lawson made it 8-for-14 with her second triple of the night. Moments later, Johnson sank her fourth — in four attempts — and then Cady Pauley got into the act from long range to make it a 45-17 ballgame midway through the second.

UVA, which went into the locker room with a comfortable 50-25 lead, ultimately connected on 10 of its first 16 attempts from long range, with Johnson going 2-for-2 in both the first and second periods alone, tacking on her last two triples in the final 3:25 of the game.

“I’ve said it all year, I just think the more games we play, the more she’ll continue to evolve because she’s a great talent and a great person,” Agugua-Hamilton said of her star freshman.

Fordham (5-7) used a full-court approach to give the Cavaliers some fits and cut into its deficit in the second half, outscoring the home team in the fourth quarter (22-16), but it was much too steep of a hill to climb in too little time.

UVA committed 19 turnovers on the evening, which resulted in 15 points on the other end, but the Hoos won the battle of the boards, 39-32, and outscored the Rams in the paint by a 38-18 margin, while putting up 36 points in transition, compared to only 12 for Fordham.

London Clarkson registered 9 points and 2 blocks, while Lawson, Pauley and another promising freshman, Olivia McGhee, combined for 17 points and 4 3-pointers off the bench.

Virginia will now have nine days to celebrate the holidays, get back and prepare for the first of multiple big games in the near future, as the Cavaliers will host unbeaten and third-ranked NC State in the conference opener on New Year’s Eve (6 p.m., ACC Network).

“Now it’s time to just enjoy their families for a little bit, get some rest, get some mental recovery, physical recovery,” said Coach Mox, “and then come back and be excited to go into conference play.”

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website, JerryRatcliffe.com, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.