The North Carolina women’s basketball team (1-1) won in thrilling overtime fashion, 87-80, on Sunday against the Colorado Buffaloes (1-1) at Carmichael Arena in front of an energetic home crowd.
The game did not start in the Tar Heels' favor. Buffaloes guard Alexis Robinson found her range early as all three of her three pointers came in the first half. UNC pushed the ball in transition and had many opportunities underneath the basket, but they rushed several high-percentage shots, which resulted in many costly misses.
Redshirt junior guard Paris Kea played hero ball early, dominating the rock, bringing it up and shooting it often trying to bring her team back. She did not get much help from the rest of her team, and the Tar Heels headed into the locker room with just 32 first half points.
North Carolina’s poor play put them behind the eight ball heading into halftime down 15 points and 10 rebounds on the glass.
But the second half was a different story.
UNC came out in a zone defense which took Colorado out of its rhythm and negated the three point shot that killed the Tar Heels early in the game. UNC’s two leaders — Kea and senior guard Jamie Cherry — decided to take over the game and will their team to the victory.
Kea and Cherry combined for over 50 percent of the team’s shots, 54 points, 86 minutes and 14 assists. As the most experienced on the team, they were the ones that had to get the job done and hit late shots to secure a victory.
Cherry hit a monumental three pointer with 18 seconds left in regulation, and Kea led the charge in overtime with seven points.
On the other side, guard Kennedy Leonard did all she could to keep the Buffaloes ahead scoring 24 points including four made three-pointers.
In addition to the individual performances, UNC made a concerted effort to shore up its rebounding in the second half and ended the game with a plus-six advantage in the department despite poor first half numbers.
The Tar Heels also outscored Colorado by 19 in fast break points due in part to UNC’s ability to finally convert on its inside opportunities in the second half when they pushed the ball down the floor.
Overall, it was an impressive win by North Carolina. Kea and Cherry had to carry the load for the entire day and will probably have to do so moving forward as they were the only two upperclassmen active for Sunday’s game.
This will continue to be the case until junior guard Destinee Walker returns from injury and the younger players build experience.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.