The full-throttle, suffocating rush to finish off their foe in first few minutes after halftime ensured them a clear path to victory.
“Third quarter we came out swinging,” Virginia coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said after the Cavaliers’ 72-52 win over Wake Forest to open Atlantic Coast Conference action on Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena. It was UVa’s first win in an ACC opener since 2017.
The Cavaliers (3-0, 1-0 ACC) tallied the first 12 points of the second half to create a double-digit advantage and to frustrate the Demon Deacons (2-1, 0-1 ACC).
Junior guard Kaydan Lawson’s 3 got the Hoos started in the third quarter, and her triple was a sign of what was to come throughout the period.
“I would say I’m very comfortable,” shooting from 3-point range, Lawson said, “especially because ever since Coach [Agugua-Hamilton] got hired, we’ve been working on the 3 and making sure that I’m more consistent there. And then having my teammates to help me get open, it’s easy knock that [3-point shot] down for us.”
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Lawson scored 13 of her game-high 15 points during the third quarter while shooting 3-of-4 from deep.
On the heels of her first bucket from behind the arc, UVa got a layup from guard Mir McClean and a pair of free throws from guard Taylor Valladay while holding Wake Forest out of the scoring column and creating one turnover after another during the third-quarter run.
Lawson’s second 3, which came off a pass from McLean whose steal sent UVa the other way, extended the Cavaliers’ advantage to 40-25 and forced Deacs coach Megan Gebbia to call a timeout two minutes and 15 seconds into the third quarter.
“Energy, playing together and doing the little things,” Agugua-Hamilton said of what prompted the fast and furious beginning to the third quarter. “We were defending and rebounding, and there were hustle plays, and then also we were able to take the adjustments made at halftime and implement them in the second half.”
Gebbia’s pause in action didn’t stop the bleeding.
Hoos forward London Clarkson’s layup capped the 12-0 run, and the Cavaliers played through the third quarter while outscoring Wake Forest 27-11. And dominating third quarters is becoming a trend for UVa. Through its first three games — vs. George Washington, UMBC and Wake Forest — the Cavaliers have combined to outscore their opponents 77-38.
And on Sunday, they did it as they took advantage of Wake Forest’s mistakes and out-scrapping the visitors. UVa scored seven points off five Demon Deacon turnovers and the Cavaliers had five second-chance points off of five offensive rebounds in that separating third quarter.
Lawson had a layup off an offensive rebound in the third, and her third 3 later in the quarter pushed UVa’s lead to 21 points at 52-31.
“In the locker room, we talked about rebounding and coming together,” Lawson, who also had six rebounds, said. “We weren’t truly together in the first half, but we came out in the second half with energy and truly ready to be together and doing the schemes that Coach talks about.”
Forward Camryn Taylor chipped in with 13 points for the Cavaliers, while fellow forward Sam Brunelle had 12 and Valladay had 10. It was the third straight game that Taylor and Brunelle both reached double figures.
McLean had seven points to go along with a contest-best five steals.
The Cavaliers began making their move to catapult past Wake Forest during the second quarter.
UVa started the second stanza on a 14-2 run to go ahead of the Demon Deacons, who led 14-12 after the first quarter.
Taylor’s layup was the first basket of the quarter and her first of the game to even the score at 14. Her jumper followed by another layup and a free throw extended UVa’s edge to 21-14.
A 3 from Brunelle came afterward, widening the lead to eight points with 5:12 left before halftime.
Wake Forest trimmed the margin to only five points — a 30-25 lead for UVa — at the break, but the Hoos’ unrelenting third quarter put the game out of reach.