UVA takes care of UNCW, 78-36, moves to 10-0 on the season

By Scott Ratcliffe

UVA senior McKenna Dale scores two of her game-high 22 points against UNC Wilmington on Sunday. (Photo by Michael Bruder)

The Virginia women’s basketball team made it 10 in a row to start the season, dismantling visiting UNC Wilmington, 78-36, Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena.

The Cavaliers (10-0, 1-0 ACC) got a season-high 22 points — including four 3-pointers — from senior McKenna Dale, as they doubled their win total from all of last season not even 30 full days into Amaka Agugua-Hamilton’s tenure as UVA head coach.

The atmosphere here really helps us, it makes it a really fun environment,” Coach Mox said of the JPJ atmosphere after the win. “It’s electric in there when we’re going on our runs and the energy in the building is awesome. That’s exactly what you want. I’m proud of our players. Being 10-0 is definitely a blessing, and we just want to continue to bring joy to the community in everything we do, especially during a dark time. I’m happy that we can put smiles on people’s faces.”

Virginia used a 17-2 first-quarter spurt to set the tone, highlighted by back-to-back buckets by Dale and a London Clarkson three-point play, and led 19-8 at the end of the first period.

“Coach Mox has been emphasizing that in the first quarter, we’ve got to come out with a punch and just start first,” said Clarkson.

Dale’s first triple — the first of the game after the teams started a combined 0 for 12 from long range — gave the Wahoos a 24-8 lead before the Seahawks (2-5) answered with a 12-1 run of their own to get within 25-20 midway through the second quarter.

But the Hoos closed the half strong with a 13-2 flurry, with Dale bookending the spurt with two more from downtown with a pullup free-throw line jumper in transition sprinkled in, and UVA took a 38-22 lead into the halftime break.

A Sam Brunelle 3 extended the lead to 21, and then Dale sank another from the corner, and Cavalier fans were celebrating a 58-29 advantage heading into the final 10 minutes, as Camryn Taylor scored just before the end of the third quarter.

Dale, whose career high of 28 points came in her final game at Brown in 2020, left Sunday’s game to a well-deserved ovation with just over five minutes remaining. For the day, the 6-footer from Storrs, Conn., got her first start, played a season-high 22 minutes, connected on 8 of 15 overall, 4 for 9 from deep and 2 for 2 from the line, while also pulling down 6 rebounds, handing out 3 assists and recording a pair of steals.

“Now that I got the first few ones going, I hope it’ll continue for the rest of the season,” Dale said of her big day.

Added Coach Mox of Dale’s performance: “She made the most of her minutes, and that’s what we needed.”

Cady Pauley scored a career-high 11 points Sunday. (Photo by Michael Bruder)

Freshman sharpshooter Cady Pauley nailed a pair of triples down the stretch, finishing with a career-high 11 points and becoming the 11th Cavalier on the roster (out of 11) who has registered 10-or-more points in at least one contest this season.

London Clarkson had another solid performance, adding 11 points off the bench, while junior forward Mir McLean came up one rebound shy of her fourth-straight double-double, finishing with 11 points and a game-high 9 rebounds.

Taylor scored just 5 points on 2-of-5 shooting, but added 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, while Carole Miller dished out a game-high 5 assists.

Virginia shot 41 percent (31 for 75) from the field, 25 percent (7 for 28) from 3-point land and 82 percent (9 of 11) from the free-throw stripe, outrebounding the Seahawks, 50-42, and assisting on 23 of its 31 makes.

Defensively, UVA recorded 15 steals and 8 blocks, converting 23 UNCW turnovers into 33 points on the opposite end. The Hoos limited the Seahawks to 25-percent shooting on the day (16 for 63) and 8 percent from downtown (1 for 13). UNCW senior forward Micah Hoggatt led the Seahawks in scoring with 8 points.

The Cavaliers travel to face William & Mary Wednesday at 7 p.m. (Flo Hoops), before an 11-day winter exam break.