At halftime, the Tar Heels found themselves within six points, though they only shot 29.7 percent in the first 20 minutes of play. North Carolina’s leading scorer was redshirt junior guard Paris Kea who had nine points on just 4-12 shooting from the floor.
UNC fought back in the third quarter and took the lead for first time since early in the first quarter. A give-and-go play from sophomore forward Emily Sullivan to Kea ended in an and-one layup for Kea. The following North Carolina possession, sophomore guard Taylor Koenen got fouled and sank two free throws — giving the Tar Heels a four-point lead with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
However, the Tar Heels couldn’t sustain their momentum. The Wolfpack ended the quarter on a 14-2 run, taking back the lead for a eight-point advantage heading into the game’s final 10 minutes.
UNC didn’t get any closer than eight points for the rest of the game. First-year guard Leah Church drained a 3-pointer from the right wing that cut the Tar Heels’ deficit to single digits with a little over five minutes to play in the game.
But, just as in the rest of the contest, the Wolfpack had an answer. North Carolina had three costly turnovers in the final four minutes of play that helped NC State put the nail in the coffin.
Who stood out?
Kea notched a game-high 16 points and added three assists. Bailey shot poorly, only hitting 4-of-14 shots, but the first-year forward added a game-high 12 rebounds. Koenen and Cherry both contributed eight points in the loss.
When was it decided?
With 3:34 remaining in the third quarter, UNC had opened up a four point lead and looked to be in control. The lead was short-lived, though, as the Wolfpack came roaring back and ignited a 14-2 run to close the third quarter. NCSU led 52-44 entering the final period, and the Tar Heels failed to get any closer than eight in the eventual 13-point victory.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina was riding high in conference play prior to its defeat on Thursday, as the loss snapped the Tar Heels’ three-game win streak. The loss brings the Tar Heels to 3-3 in the ACC.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will take on Duke on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Carmichael Arena.
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