Virginia had to fend off a late attack on Minnesota to earn a 73-70 win in Saturday’s opener of the 2022 Cavalier Classic.
The ‘Hoos (7-0, 1-0 ACC) led 71-62, with 3:06 remaining, but the Gophers (3-2) started an 8-0 run and made it a one-point game, 71 -70 , with 51 seconds remaining.
Two crucial steals by the Cavaliers in the final 20 seconds of the game helped the team secure the win.
Camryn Taylor was one of three Cavaliers in double digits with 22 points. Mir McLean had her second double-double of the year with 11 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Mara Braun advanced Minnesota with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
This is Virginia’s first 7-0 start since the 1992-93 season.
“That was fun,” said UVA coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton. “Just proud of our group. I think we’re learning to win in so many different ways, whether we’re down in part of the game or blowing someone out, or it’s a close game like today where every possession counts in the end. ”
It didn’t look like it as the second of two threes from Sam Brunelle, who had 17 points, pushed the Cavalier lead back to 10, 59-49 with 7:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota moved from behind, pulling back to two at 61-59 in back-to-back layups with just over five minutes left. McLean hit a one-and-one to end Minnesota’s 10-2 run, making it 64-59 with 4:50 left. Brunelle hit her third three of the half and seemingly gave the Cavaliers breathing room with a 71-62 lead.
Minnesota went on an 8-0 run and drew within 1.71-70 with a three-pointer with 51 seconds remaining. After a miss by Virginia, Minnesota had the ball with 19.3 seconds left.
Taylor grabbed a steal with 6.4 seconds remaining. She was fouled and missed both free throw attempts, but the Cavaliers got the ball after it went wide by a Gopher with 4.6 seconds left.
Valladay made a free throw to put UVA at 72-70. Kaydan Lawson stole the ball and gave the Cavaliers possession in the final seconds as they held onto the win.
“I was happy to see the defense got the better of us in the end,” said Agugua-Hamilton. “Kaydan Lawson made some really good plays but everyone was stuck on defense. And we’ve gotten better and better at it. So I’m really proud of our group.”
Virginia wraps up Sunday’s Cavalier Classic, facing East Carolina (4-1) at 2 p.m.