Halfway through the second half, a 3-pointer by Meghan McIntyre puts the Bulldogs two points away from tying the game.
Then the Tar Heels buckled down for battle and Cherry came up big.
Following two sunken foul shots by senior forward Xylina McDaniel, Cherry got a jumper and drew the foul, giving the Tar Heels a five-point lead, and turning the tide back in their favor. With a jumper by senior guard N'Dea Bryant and an additional two-pointer for Cherry, the Tar Heels took an 11-point lead.
But UNC was not fully in the clear.
As the battle continued in the fourth period, Yale chipped away the Tar Heel lead until the Bulldogs were down by five points with just under two minutes to play.
Here, Bryant pulled critical stops.
The Bulldogs found a fast break to shoot and potentially further tighten the lead, but Bryant was able to block the shot, returning the possession to North Carolina.
When Yale found another chance to shoot in the final minute, Bryant came up big once again. She got the rebound off the shot and drew the foul, sinking both free throws to propel the Tar Heels to a 63-56 lead with 48 seconds remaining.
Following Bryant’s strong defense, North Carolina was able to maintain this lead over Yale for the final seconds. The final buzzer sounded and the Tar Heels walked away undefeated in tournament play.
“It’s amazing how we’ve improved as a team in the last eight days. I thought they fought hard. it was very physical. A lot of them didn’t get any rest at all… so they were tough.” – Coach Sylvia Hatchell on her team’s performance.
North Carolina held a lead over Yale the entire game.
Three Numbers that matter
13: Bryant tallied 13 rebounds, more than any other player on the court
24: Cherry, broken nose and all, scored 24 points in the game, more than any other player on the court.
36: North Carolina held Yale to a field goal percentage 36% for the game
The Tar Heels will take on Pacific on Wednesday at 2 pm in Carmichael Arena.