After securing its first ACC victory on Sunday, the North Carolina women’s basketball team (12-5, 2-2 ACC) faced off against a struggling Clemson (10-7, 0-4 ACC) on Thursday night in Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels managed to come out victorious in a low-scoring affair, notching their second-straight ACC win, 59-52.
The game got off to a quick start, with Clemson taking the tip-off and getting an easy lay-in. However, the Tigers entered a scoring drought just as quickly as they got their first points of the game and didn't score for four minutes. Meanwhile, first-year Janelle Bailey began asserting her dominance down low, recording three rebounds in the first two minutes. The Tar Heels ended the quarter on a 14-0 run, leading the Tigers 20-4.
After struggling mightily in the first quarter, Clemson made a small run of its own to start the second quarter, outscoring UNC 7-2 in the first two and a half minutes. Following the run, the Tigers quickly went cold again, scoring only four points in the final seven and a half minutes of the first half. The Tar Heels weren’t on fire either, though, ending the first half hitting zero of their last six field goal attempts. The half ended in a 32-15 UNC lead, with senior Jamie Cherry leading all scorers with nine points.
Redshirt junior Paris Kea – who leads the Tar Heels in scoring this season – couldn’t find her touch in the first half, scoring only six points while going 1-7 from the field. She quickly warmed up in the third quarter, scoring five points in the first three minutes. Bailey continued her dominance on the inside, notching yet another double-double with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
The end of the third quarter featured opposing trends. After shooting an abysmal 22.5 percent through two quarters, Clemson shot a much better 36.4 percent in the third quarter. UNC, on the other hand, saw a 22-percentage point drop in its shooting from the first half to the third quarter – shooting 47.1 percent in the first half and 25 percent in the third quarter. Despite the change, the Tar Heels still managed to lead the Tigers 47-35 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter featured more of the same from both teams: poor shooting. Because of UNC’s poor shooting in the second half, Clemson remained in the game. With four minutes to go, the Tigers hit a free throw to make it a nine-point game. Then, Cherry hit an important jumper to stretch the lead out to double digits once again and Bailey fouled out.
With 30 seconds left, Clemson had the game within five points – the closest margin since midway through the first quarter. Clemson missed a layup with 11 seconds to go in the game, and Kea came down with the rebound. The game ended in a 59-52 UNC victory.