Home Women’s Basketball: Virginia can’t overcome sluggish first quarter in loss to Syracuse

Women’s Basketball: Virginia can’t overcome sluggish first quarter in loss to Syracuse

Chris Graham
uva syracuse
Photo: UVA Athletics

#19 Syracuse led by 14 at the end of the first quarter, and Virginia, playing uphill the rest of the way, couldn’t get over the hump in an 85-79 loss on Sunday in JPJ.

The day did see a season-high 6,619 fans on hand for the program’s annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day game.

Virginia Athletics honored former women’s basketball head coach Debbie Ryan at halftime.

Syracuse (22-5, 12-3 ACC), with the win, is now alone in second in the rugged ACC, a game behind #12 Virginia Tech (22-4, 13-2 ACC).

Virginia (12-13, 4-10 ACC) continues to struggle in Year 2 under coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, who got big days out of heralded freshman recruit Kymora Johnson (15 points, 10 assists, first career double-double), Camryn Taylor (20 points, eight rebounds) and Paris Clark (16 points, seven rebounds).

Grad senior Sam Brunelle chipped in 10 points and five assists.

Syracuse got 33 points from Dyaisha Fair (13-of-23 FG, 5-of-10 3FG) and 26 points from Georgia Woolley (7-of-13 FG, 8-of-8 FT).

Down big most of the way, Virginia actually did make things interesting in the fourth quarter, connecting on 12-of-21 from the field, and getting the margin down to four, at 77-73, on a layup by Taylor, assisted by Johnson, with 1:32 to play.

Brunelle and Johnson could not connect on a pair of threes in the final minute, and the game wouldn’t get any closer.

“It was a tale of two teams. First half, I thought we were completely different than the second half, and had we been the second-half team, I think there probably would have been a different outcome,” Agugua-Hamilton said after the game.

“Dyaisha Fair, she’s special. She had 33 points. We tried a lot of things, run different people at her, faceguard her, hedge her, trap her, and she just kind of had her way and was pretty difficult to guard,” the coach said. “Some of the other ones, I thought, were controllables. We gave them too many wide-open shots. But, when our urgency kicked in and our competitiveness, we looked pretty good in the second half. So, we just got to, again, put together a 40-minute game.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].