The North Carolina women’s basketball team defeated Charleston Southern, 93-77, at Carmichael Arena on Tuesday. UNC was led by sophomore guard Stephanie Watts, who had a career high 39 points.
The Tar Heels (4-0) and Buccaneers (2-2) began the game in a back-and-forth fashion. A huge 13-0 run — which culminated with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Watts — gave UNC a 29-12 edge by the end of the quarter.
Charleston Southern didn’t score another point until the 7:13 mark of the second quarter. The Buccaneers scored more than twice as many points as they did in the first quarter, but still trailed 53-38 at halftime.
UNC led by as many as 24 points in the first half. First-year guard Olivia Smith provided a nice spark off the bench with back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter.
North Carolina also continued to experiment with both half-court and full-court presses — by halftime, the Tar Heels had forced 11 turnovers.
The Buccaneers pulled within 11 points in the third, but the Tar Heels responded with a quick 9-0 run in the following minute. Charleston Southern countered with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the quarter, trimming the deficit to just 12.
North Carolina maintained a comfortable lead through the entire fourth quarter. Watts’ 10th 3-pointer of the game set an ACC record and was the final push North Carolina needed for a victory.
Who stood out?
Watts was the Tar Heels’ best player by far. She scored a career-high 39 points and set both the UNC and the ACC record for 3-pointers made in a game with 10.
Watts had a school-record 19 points in the first quarter. She also outscored Charleston Southern’s entire team by 7 points in that period.
Redshirt sophomore guard Paris Kea had 13 points and five rebounds and junior guard Jamie Cherry added 12 for the Tar Heels.
First-year guard Ke’Asia Jackson led Charleston Southern with 16 points.
When was it decided?
UNC’s first-quarter run was the turning point of the game. Coach Sylvia Hatchell called a timeout early in the first after sloppy defense by the Tar Heels led to an uncontested layup for Charleston Southern.
North Carolina came out of that timeout leading just 12-8, but it quickly became clear something had changed. The team finished the first quarter on a 17-4 run.
Watts scored 11 of those 17 points for North Carolina to give the team the breathing room it needed.
Although Charleston Southern had a few spurts after that first quarter run, North Carolina remained in control to pull out the win.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina finished its four-game home stand undefeated. The Tar Heels have beaten their past four opponents handily — winning by margins of 30, 45, 15 and 16 points.
UNC’s offense is more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Watts’ 39 points and the team’s 14 made 3-pointers prove that.
But weaknesses are showing. Defense and ball control will be the Tar Heels’ main focuses moving forward.
They entered this game second in the ACC in scoring defense (46.3 points per game) but surrendered 77 points and nine made 3-pointers to the Buccaneers. UNC was also very sloppy with the ball, committing 19 turnovers.
Where do they play next?
UNC will travel to Bimini, Bahamas to play its first road game of the season in the 13th annual Junkanoo Jam. The Tar Heels will face South Florida on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
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