First-year guard Stephanie Watts recorded her fifth foul, sending her out of the game with over a minute left in the fourth quarter.
Despite her early exit from Thursday's contest at Wake Forest, she had lived up to the high standards she has set for herself this season.
Having tallied 24 points and snatched 13 rebounds, Watts registered her fourth double-double of the season against the Demon Deacons.
But it wasn’t enough for her team.
Watts was one of five players on the North Carolina women's basketball team to commit at least four fouls, as the Tar Heels dropped their fourth consecutive game in a 75-63 loss to Wake Forest (10-9, 1-5 ACC).
UNC (12-9, 2-4 ACC) struggled to maintain momentum throughout the game — often cutting into the Demon Deacons' lead before falling down again. The Tar Heels never led in 40 minutes of play.
Sophomore guard Jamie Cherry — who finished with 18 points — made two 3-pointers in the first period to keep UNC within striking distance. But eight turnovers resulted in a 18-14 North Carolina deficit by the end of the quarter.
The Demon Deacons led by as many as 13 points in the second period and entered halftime with a 36-24 edge. Wake Forest extended its lead to as many as 18 points in the third quarter, and there was no looking back.
Watts didn’t let this deter her from having another outstanding game, as she and Cherry combined for 42 points. The other four players who scored for the Tar Heels accounted for 21 points.
Twice in the final 1:44 of play, North Carolina trimmed the Demon Deacons' lead to 10 points. But when Watts fouled out with 1:16 left, UNC's comeback attempt lost its spark.
“”We did get into foul trouble at the end of the game. And knowing I’m (in foul trouble) means I can’t play as aggressive as I would like.” — Watts on her team's foul trouble on Thursday against Wake Forest.
Limited to seven scholarship players, the Tar Heels' lack of depth showed once again against the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest finished the game with a 28-4 advantage in bench points.
Three numbers that matter
22: Cumulative fouls for UNC against the Demon Deacons.
18: Wake Forest forced UNC to turn the ball over 18 times on Thursday, which led to 19 points.
8: The Tar Heels were tied with Wake Forest for eight seconds before Elisa Penna drilled a 3-pointer to give the Demon Deacons a 3-0 lead — one they wouldn't relinquish.
North Carolina plays Duke at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
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