Duke snaps UVA’s longest win streak since 1995 with 70-56 win at Cameron

By Scott Ratcliffe

Virginia’s Carole Miller is boxed out by Duke’s Elizabeth Balogun. (Photo: UVA Athletics)

The Virginia women’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday, as Duke built a comfortable advantage in the second quarter and never looked back in a 70-56 decision at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

UVA (12-1, 1-1 ACC) got only 16 minutes out of leading scorer and rebounder Mir McLean, who battled with foul trouble and picked up her fifth with 8:08 to play, with the Cavaliers down by a dozen. McLean finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Senior forward Camryn Taylor, who finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds, also fouled out in the fourth.

The Blue Devils (11-1, 1-0) led by four, 21-17, through one quarter before building a double-digit advantage in the second. They closed the half on a 14-5 run and took a 38-26 lead into the halftime break.

Virginia shot itself in the foot with bad passes, careless turnovers and missed shots, and Duke knocked down a few big 3-point baskets to gain control.

“We were in foul trouble for one,” added UVA head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, who lost her first game with the Cavaliers and just the 16th of her four-year career (she was 74-15 in three seasons at Missouri State). “Sam Brunelle was playing the five — that’s not her position — and so running some of our sets was difficult because we were kind of out of position.

“We had different lineups in there, so foul trouble kind of rattled us a little bit, and then we weren’t hitting shots, we weren’t getting the looks we needed to, the press was bothering us a little bit, so what [the Blue Devils] were trying to do was working at that point.”

The Wahoos fought back and got the score back within single digits in the third quarter, but the Devils again finished strong and headed to the fourth quarter ahead by 14, 53-39.

“We made some adjustments at halftime and we just didn’t do a great job… we usually do a pretty good job at implementing adjustments, but we just weren’t clicking tonight,” said Coach Mox. “We’re on the road, and a good environment for [Duke], and it’s just a learning experience for us.”

UVA never threw in the towel and again was able to draw within 10 points, but Kara Lawson’s team was able to secure the important early-season conference victory.

Virginia shot 32 percent from the field (18 for 56), 20 percent from long range (3 for 15) and 77 percent from the free-throw line (17 for 22), committing 19 turnovers that led to 24 Duke points. As Coach Mox pointed out afterwards, the Hoos uncharacteristically only dished out five assists on the night, by far a season-low (the previous low was 10).

“If we gave our best effort, stuck to the game plan, and got 50-50 balls, rebounded it like we should, then we walk away with a valiant effort, with our head height, but I don’t think we did,” said Agugua-Hamilton. “We just weren’t in sync at all. We didn’t play as aggressive as I wanted us to play, and together — that’s the biggest thing.”

Minnesota transfer Alexia Smith scored a team-high 11 points to lead the Hoos, while Brunelle and McLean added 10 apiece. Senior point guard Taylor Valladay exited the game with a knee injury in the first half, but was able to return and added 7 points on the evening.

The Devils shot 36 percent (21 for 59), including 41 percent (7 of 17) from 3-point land. Duke also sank 21 of 29 from the charity stripe (72 percent) and edged the Hoos on the glass, 41-40.

Duke junior Vanessa de Jesus led all scorers with 15 points and senior Celeste Taylor finished with 13 points and a team-high 8 rebounds. Junior center Kennedy Brown had 12 points and 5 blocks, and sophomore Shayeann Day-Wilson added 11 points for the Blue Devils. Duke’s second-leading scorer on the season, senior forward Elizabeth Balogun, was held without a point on 0-for-6 shooting.

Despite the loss, Coach Mox is confident in her team moving forward, especially now that the Hoos are continuing to gain national recognition. UVA was ranked No. 25 in the USA Today poll this week, and Agugua-Hamilton knows her team is going to keep getting challenged even more as a result, as they’re now “playing with expectations.”

“That’s different for this group,” she said of the ranking, “and we’ve got to get used to playing with like a target on our back. Obviously, Duke wanted to beat us because we’re undefeated, everybody wants to win a game, but there was more ammunition behind it, because we’re undefeated, we’re ranked, so now they can get a ranking.”

Team Notes

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

  • Alexia Smith is the seventh different Cavalier to lead the team in scoring in a game this season
  • Sam Brunelle was 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, but went 1 of 6 from the field
  • Mir McLean scored 10 points with eight rebounds before fouling out with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. Camryn Taylor also fouled out in the fourth quarter
  • Virginia is ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke is receiving votes
  • The Blue Devils have won the last 16 meetings at Cameron Indoor. Virginia’s last win in Durham came on Feb. 19, 1997


The Cavaliers will have a week off before hosting Georgia Tech on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 6 p.m., and then face a grueling three-game stretch against top-10 ACC opponents — at No. 8 Virginia Tech, at No. 7 NC State, vs. No. 6 North Carolina — to begin the new year.