The North Carolina women’s basketball team secured a 68-67 win against Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon during UNC’s ACC home opener in Carmichael Arena.
The atmosphere was electric throughout the entire game, both on and off the court. With both teams starting conference play 0-2, a great deal was on the line for the rivals.
Until this game, the Panthers lead the all-time series over the Tar Heels 5-2. During the 2017 ACC Tournament, UNC ended its four-game losing streak with a 72-60 victory over Pitt in the first round.
Since head coach Sylvia Hatchell secured her 1,000th win against Grambling State on Dec. 19, the team has suffered three harsh losses. This win installed confidence, especially with it being an ACC win.
“It was hard fought ...” Hatchell said. "We’re doing some things that hurt us at times, distant shots and stuff like that, but we’re learning to play smarter with our fouls. They fought hard, and the crowd was great.”
The first two quarters of the game went back and forth between the two teams, littered with missed shots and frustrating fouls. Going into the half, UNC (11-5, 1-2 ACC) had a slight lead of 33-30 over the Panthers, which created an even more stressful environment within the arena.
At the half, first-year Janelle Bailey lead the team in points with 12, scoring six each quarter. Senior Jamie Cherry scored nine points while redshirt junior Paris Kea followed closely behind with eight points.
Coming out from halftime, the team had a faster tempo, but the game was still neck and neck throughout the third. Towards the end of the third quarter, the momentum started to shift when Hatchell made a quick substitute with one-minute remaining – a substitute that would help secure the win for UNC through her play and attitude.
“I put Leah in there because they ran zone,” Hatchell said. “She made a couple really big shots for us and really gave us some really good, strong, positive energy out there when we needed it.”