Johnson, Brunelle lead surprising Virginia women to 81-66 upset of No. 20 North Carolina

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kymora Johnson scored 25 points, Sam Brunelle added 15, and Virginia beat a ranked team for the second time in eight days, knocking off No. 20 North Carolina 81-66 on Sunday.

Virginia led by three points at halftime and an 8-2 run to open the third quarter gave the Cavaliers a 45-36 lead. North Carolina fought back and cut the margin to three points heading to the fourth. Indya Nivar led North Carolina with all eight of her points in the third, but she played only a total of 12 minutes before she fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

A 3-pointer from Brunelle gave the Cavaliers a five-point lead a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter. She made another 3 to give Virginia a 70-61 lead with about seven minutes left.

A layup by Lexi Donarski got the Tar Heels within eight points with 3:29 to go, but they missed their next six shots and Virginia went on a 7-0 run to finish the game.

Johnson and Brunelle were each 4 for 5 from distance, combining to make eight of Virginia's 11 3-pointers. Johnson had six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Brunelle had seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Paris Clark had 14 points, three assists and five steals; and London Clarkson added 10 points for the Cavaliers (10-10, 2-7 ACC).

Despite their lowly ACC record, the Cavaliers have been on a hot streak. They pushed No. 15 Notre Dame to the limit on Jan. 18 and defeated then-No. 15 Florida State last Sunday before disposing of North Carolina.

North Carolina (15-6, 7-2) was led by Reniya Kelly's 20 points and Alyssa Ustby's 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Deja Kelly had 10 points on 2-for-13 shooting.

Reniya Kelly scored nine points, Ustby added seven, and North Carolina rolled to a 25-16 lead after one quarter. The Cavaliers rallied in the second, oustcoring the Tar Heels 21-9 to take a 37-34 halftime lead. Brunelle scored eight points and Johson had five points with three assists in the second quarter.

The upset came on a day when Virginia celebrated the 50th anniversary of UVA Women's Basketball and honored dozens of former players and coaches at halftime.

Next up for North Carolina is the short trip to take on No. 7 North Carolina State on Thursday.

Virginia visits Virginia Tech on Thursday.

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