CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Faith Randolph has rarely seen a shot she doesn't think she can make, and when the ones she takes are falling, the offensive lift she gives Virginia can make them dangerous to even top-flight teams.
Second-ranked Notre Dame got a look at that on Sunday as Randolph made 10 of 17 shots, scored a career-high 23 points and had the Cavaliers on the verge of an upset before they fell short, 79-72.
"We put our best athlete on her but that didn't help at all," Notre Dame coach, Muffet McGraw, said, referring to Jewell Loyd. "We actually had a plan for guarding her that we didn't follow.
"Boy, when she gets hot there's really no stopping her."
The loss came at the start of a stretch of four consecutive games against ranked teams for the Cavaliers (8-8, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), and coach Joanne Boyle came away greatly encouraged.
"We've been young, and our youth is maturing," she said, noting the when Notre Dame started the second half with an 8-2 run, stretching its lead to 51-38, the Cavaliers showed themselves something but not letting the Irish run away.
"It's a testament to the team," Boyle said of the rally that made it a close game to the finish. "They just feel like they're always going to be in a game. That's what games like this do for you."
The Cavaliers next play at No. 3 Duke and then host No. 18 Florida State and No. 6 Maryland, and forward Sarah Imovbioh said she hopes to see more of the same from Randolph, the Cavaliers' sixth man.
"I know she's going to bring that energy, that intensity, and she will drive really hard to the basket," Imovbioh said after scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against the taller Irish.
For Notre Dame (15-0, 3-0 ACC), Natalie Achonwa scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, Kayla McBride added 23 points and five assists and Loyd scored 17.
The Cavaliers were coming of a victory at Virginia Tech in which they rallied from 17 points down to win, but couldn't quite repeat the feat despite getting within 71-69 with 3:49 remaining.