The North Carolina women’s basketball team fell to in-state rival North Carolina State, 66-53, on Thursday at home. This was the fourth time UNC has lost to N.C. State in its last five meetings.
The Tar Heels (13-6, 3-3 ACC) started out slow offensively, shooting a dismal 19 percent from the floor in the first quarter of action. N.C. State controlled the pace from the opening tip and made sure UNC wouldn’t get easy points in transition.
“They remind me of Virginia’s men’s team,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said of the Wolfpack. “They play good half-court defense and play more, slow, deliberate, methodical, running everything on offense — which they’re very good at.”
The Wolfpack (15-5, 4-3 ACC) brought the intensity on defense for the majority of the contest, leaving the Tar Heels scoreless for stretches throughout the game. North Carolina’s first big scoring drought came in the final 4:41 of the first quarter, when UNC couldn’t find the bottom of the net and NC State went on a 10-0 run.
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.