And the story was no different on Thursday, as the Tar Heels (12-5, 1-3 ACC) had a case of the second-quarter woes in a 70-58 loss to the No. 12 Blue Devils (15-2, 3-1 ACC).
The first quarter of play was promising for UNC, as sharp-shooting sophomore Stephanie Watts and do-it-all redshirt sophomore Paris Kea — the team’s two leading scorers — finished the period with 13 of the Tar Heels’ 17 points.
Watts brought some finesse to her scoring, with an impressive behind-the-back move into a right hook shot off the glass. Kea, meanwhile, found her mid-range shooting stroke, scoring UNC’s first seven points to give North Carolina an early lead despite its 3-point shooting drought.
But as the first quarter clock wound down, the holes in the Tar Heels’ four-guard lineup began to grow. Duke pounded the ball into the post — scoring 24 of its 36 first-half points in the paint — and relied on the strength of its forwards to beat a smaller North Carolina frontcourt.
“Paris started off so great for us, and it’s such a great key for us,” Watts said. “We knew when they were playing zone that she can explode the game because that’s kind of her game — mid range.”
Kea went back to her sweet spot, making a mid-range jumper 11 seconds into the period. But that was the only field goal UNC made in the entire second quarter. The Blue Devils’ success in the paint and the Tar Heels’ inability to shoot the 3-pointer led to a game-defining second quarter.
The Tar Heels finished 1-for-14 from the field and 0-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc in the period — tallying just four points and giving Duke a 15-point halftime lead that never dipped below double digits for the remainder of the game.
“They changed their defense and clogged the middle,” Kea said.