The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Kea shines, Cherry struggles as UNC women's basketball falls, 85-84, to South Alabama

Paris Kea gets pressured by South Alabama defenders in Sunday's 85-84 loss

North Carolina junior Paris Kea (22) comes under heavy pressure by South Alabama's Candice Williams (0) during Sunday afternoon's game at Carmichael Arena. 

Paris Kea could have been the name in everyone’s mouths after scoring 31 points, one short of her career high, to go along with a career-high 11 assists for an excellent performance against South Alabama. Perhaps it should have been Janelle Bailey, whose efficient inside scoring kept North Carolina afloat on a night when many of its normal shots weren’t falling. 

Bailey instead fouled out in the fourth quarter of a close game, and the Tar Heels lost, 85-84, on Sunday afternoon in Carmichael Arena. A game-winning 3-pointer attempt from guard Jamie Cherry, who ended up going 0-10 from the field, rimmed out at the buzzer.

After the game, head coach Sylvia Hatchell was clearly frustrated with the how the officials called fouls on Bailey.

“I don’t know.” Hatchell said. “I’ve got no answers for why she’s not getting any respect in there.”

UNC scored 42 of its 84 points in the paint, and without Bailey down the stretch, found it difficult to score at all. The Tar Heels only managed to score seven points for the rest of the game after Bailey fouled out at the 4:11 mark of the fourth quarter.

South Alabama was led by center Chyna Ellis, and by guard Savannah Jones who scored 14 of her 22 points in the first quarter, on 5-5 shooting and 3-3 shooting from 3-point range. 

Jones only scored three points in the second quarter, and then none in the third. She came up big for the Jaguars in the fourth quarter, making two clutch free throws to bring to Jaguars within one point in the final 41 seconds. Ellis followed that with a go-ahead jumper that gave South Alabama an 85-84 lead.

“(Jones) was lighting it up at the beginning of the game” Hatchell said. “We were going to go some zone, but I didn’t think we could change it because they had four kids shooting threes.”

As a whole, South Alabama lit it up from behind the arc, shooting 48 percent from three for the game compared to North Carolina's 31 percent 3-point shooting. 

“Usually Jamie is taking most of those threes,” Hatchell said. “She just had an off night. Normally we can knock down threes.” 

Cherry missed all six of her threes in the game, including the potential buzzer-beater to end the game. 

Hatchell emphasized the team needed to do a better job of rebounding the ball, although they were only outrebounded 37 to 34 in the game. Redshirt first-year Jocelyn Jones once again led the team in rebounds with eight. Jones has been the leading first-year rebounder for the ACC so far this season, averaging 8.3 a game.

In spite of the loss, the Tar Heels had some positives to take away. Kea’s 31 points showed the steps she’s taken as North Carolina’s go-to scorer and that she can continue the level of play that has made her the ACC’s leading scorer at 23.3 points a game so far this season. 

Another positive was first-year guard Leah Church, who made her season debut and had three points in 10 minutes of play.

“This is the first time she’s been back out there in over a month,” Hatchell said of Church. “I think she’s going to be able to help us out some because the kid is a great 3-point shooter.” 

The Tar Heels look to take on UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the last game they play before they start the ACC/Big 10 challenge.


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.