White and 6-foot-3 teammate Malaya Johnson carried the Phoenix, who scored 28 points in the paint in the first half.
But Kea led the charge for the Tar Heels, pouring in 20 points while also holding her own in the paint as a stretch-four.
“Paris is tough as nails, and she’s been playing really, really well,” Coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
Because of the size issue in the paint, UNC relied heavily on the perimeter shot. The Tar Heels earned 18 points via the 3-pointer in the opening 20 minutes, heading into the half with a 42-38 lead.
Following a barrage of Elon buckets in the third quarter, UNC’s lead fell to just one point — a 60-59 advantage heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
Sophomore guard Stephanie Watts was a vital part of the UNC scoring, tallying 14 points through three quarters. But she was forced to the bench with 8:39 remaining in the game after picking up her fourth foul.
With the score at 63-61 — and UNC without its go-to scorer — it was Kea who took over.
Utilizing her dribbling skills, Kea orchestrated the offense by knocking down mid-range jumpers or finding an open teammate.
“I play like a four position,” she said. “Most of the time I get caught with a center on me, or someone who’s probably bigger than me.”
“So I just try to use my quickness and beat them off the first step.”
Up 71-68 with under three minutes on the clock, the Tar Heels needed a spark. With 2:27 left, it was Kea who delivered a pull-up jumper to give her team breathing room at 73-68.
“Paris has got as good a mid-range game as anybody in the country, really,” Hatchell said.
Kea played every minute for UNC while also leading the team in scoring and tying for the lead in rebounds (6) and assists (5).
“Paris has done a great job,” Hatchell said, “and she’s really, really been our clutch player lots of times out there.”