For a bit, it looked like it would be the same old story for the North Carolina women's basketball team (14-12, 4-7 ACC). But led by dynamic first-year guard Stephanie Watts, the Tar Heels held on in the second half for a 71-67 win.
The Tar Heels had played well in the first half, building a 38-21 lead over Virginia Tech (15-9, 3-8 ACC) in Thursday night's game in Chapel Hill. But after making eight baskets the entire first half, the Hokies hit eight of their first 10 shots of the third quarter to draw within a 46-40 margin.
It continued a pattern of third-quarter struggles that doomed the team in losses to N.C. State and Louisville.
But coming out of the media timeout halfway through the third quarter, Watts hit a pair of free throws, then followed it up with a 3-pointer to stretch UNC's lead back into double digits. Fellow first-year guard Destinee Walker hit another 3-pointer, and UNC was back in control.
The Tar Heels had to weather another push by the Hokies in the fourth quarter. UNC went the final eight minutes of the game without hitting a field goal, but several big free throws by redshirt junior Hillary Summers and redshirt senior Erika Johnson helped keep North Carolina in the lead.