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Wood’s 3-pointer helps Tar Heels take down Virginia

Women's basketball versus Virginia. Friday, February 3rd.

After trailing by as much as 16 early in the second half, unranked Virginia refused to leave Carmichael Arena without testing No. 23 North Carolina.

Virginia went on a 26-10 run to tie the Tar Heels at 52, making a strong case for a repeat of the double-overtime game the two teams played on Jan. 5 in Charlottesville.

But junior guard Candace Wood didn’t let it get that far.

The Tar Heels (17-5, 7-2) led 57-56 when senior She’la White found Wood open from beyond the arc. With 56 seconds remaining, Wood drained a 3-pointer, giving UNC a four-point lead it would not relinquish in a 64-56 victory.

“My teammates kept me in it,” Wood said. “She’la had a chance to shoot that, and she passed it to me. She had confidence in me, so I just let it fly.”

Wood took nine of the Tar Heels’ 18 3-point attempts. She found the net on three of those nine attempts, including the clincher.

But Wood still wasn’t finished putting the Cavaliers away.

In the final minute, after her critical 3-pointer, Wood made all four of her free throws to punctuate the Tar Heel victory.

But the most important free throw for her was the one she missed — her first one of the season. She is now 21-of-22 in free-throw shooting.

“She’s done that for us in several games,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “At the end I was telling them, ‘Get it to Candace, get it to Candace.’”

Senior Chay Shegog was UNC’s leading scorer, shooting 9-for-11 from the field and making both of her free throw attempts to reach 20 points.

The Tar Heels haven’t had to lean on Shegog as much with several upperclassmen returning from injury.

“We’re getting better and better because we got people out there now,” Hatchell said. “We’re having some time to play together and work on things.”

Defensively, the Tar Heels accomplished Hatchell’s goal of limiting Virginia’s Ataira Franklin, who scored 29 points against UNC the first time the teams played.

Franklin was scoreless at halftime, but managed 11 points in the second half.

The Tar Heels were aided by Virginia’s poor shooting, as the Cavaliers shot 32 percent from the field and were only 3-for-17 from 3-point range.

But in what is becoming a trend for Hatchell’s team, the Tar Heels committed 22 turnovers, many of which were unforced.

“Our turnovers were ridiculous. They weren’t even against the press that much,” Hatchell said. “We try to make these spectacular passes, you know, these thread-the-needle passes.”

The Tar Heels still left Carmichael Arena with a win. Wood, who entered Friday’s contest averaging 6.8 points per game, finished with 14, one shy of her career-high.

Wood couldn’t take Friday night for granted. She said she is excited to be a part of the Tar Heels’ success after missing her first two seasons at UNC with knee injuries.

“I never thought I would see this opportunity,” Wood said. “It’s been a great road and I’m just hoping to keep improving.

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“I knew they were going to come after us, because going into overtime with them back at their place. I know they wanted this, but coming here, it’s like we wanted it more.”

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