As the half went on, UNC began to reach its stride. After a 15-1 scoring run, the Tar Heels took a 20-12 lead over the Bulldogs with about six minutes left in the half, and would enter the break with a 6-point advantage.
But North Carolina’s comfortable lead did not last long.
Less than one minute into the second half, Gonzaga cut UNC’s lead to two points. A 3-pointer moments later gave the Bulldogs a 33-32 lead, and North Carolina trailed for the first time since the first period.
As the seconds dwindled down, it was anybody’s game — until McDaniel’s 3-point play. In the final 28 seconds, first-year guard Destinee Walker sank two free throws to put the Tar Heels up by three, and McDaniel later extended the lead with two more free throws.
North Carolina’s defense stopped Gonzaga’s attempts to score, and the Tar Heels held onto the lead to walk away with a win.
“(They were a) great team — so this was a big win for us. And we’re going to keep building on it.” — Coach Sylvia Hatchel on her team’s performance.
Sunday’s game marked McDaniel’s first start for the Tar Heels this season. After sitting out for the majority of the 2014-15 season with a torn Achilles, the senior forward has been hampered with more injury issues.
Three numbers that matter
37.5: UNC’s defense held Gonzaga to 37.5 percent shooting on Sunday afternoon.
23: North Carolina scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, compared to just 10 in the first.
41: UNC totaled 41 rebounds for the night, outrebounding the Bulldogs by nine.
The Tar Heels will host Northwestern at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in Carmichael Arena as a part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.