But the Tar Heels could not break ahead, ultimately falling 72-68 to the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Va., on Thursday night.
North Carolina (14-16, 4-11 ACC) dominated at the start of the game, taking a 13-6 lead halfway through the first period. Although UVa. (16-13, 6-9 ACC) narrowed the gap, UNC maintained its lead.
That is until UNC went on a 4:38 scoring drought. As the Tar Heels struggled to score, the Cavaliers went on a 6-0 run to claim a 29-26 advantage at halftime.
The third quarter looked no better for North Carolina.
At least, not at first — when UVa. pushed its lead to seven points with 6:25 left in the period.
With the game at risk of slipping away, Coach Sylvia Hatchell called a timeout to breathe new life into her team.
UNC went on a 12-3 run out of the timeout to reclaim a two-point lead with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
UNC did not hold the lead for long, as UVa. rounded out the third quarter back on top. The Tar Heels encountered more trouble toward the start of the fourth period, when UVa. capitalized on a three-point play to take a five-point lead.
But UNC did not relent. The Tar Heels went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to one point with about two minutes left.
The Cavaliers answered with six free throws by Mikayla Venson to put away UNC’s comeback chance.
“Talking on defense. Sometimes when we get tired ... we tend to not talk a lot, so coming out with energy and talking would probably be the big changes.” — Walker on what needs to improve.
Erika Johnson replaced N’Dea Bryant in the starting lineup, marking her first career start. Johnson went on to score UNC’s first basket of the game but only made one free throw after that.
3 numbers that matter
21: UNC allowed the Cavaliers to convert 17 offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points.
57.1: North Carolina shot 57.1 percent from the free throw line. Before Thursday, UNC was shooting 72.2 percent from the charity stripe on the season.
18: The Tar Heels turned the ball over 18 times. UVa. scored 18 points off those turnovers.
The Tar Heels host the Duke Blue Devils in their final game of the regular season at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Carmichael Arena.