RALEIGH – The start was promising enough.
An early seven-point advantage and a one-point lead after one quarter of action suggested that the North Carolina women’s basketball team might perform well against a rival for the second straight time.
UNC, which was last victorious over three weeks ago when it upset then-No. 15 Duke, went into Sunday’s game against No. 23 N.C. State hoping to get back on track and end a four-game losing streak.
Instead, the Tar Heels lost 73-54 to a more experienced Wolfpack team, with rebounding and a lopsided second quarter proving to be the difference.
“I think you saw a big difference in experience and athleticism,” UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell said after the loss. “'Cause you know, Jamie’s our only senior, Paris is our only junior, and you know they’ve got transfers – fifth-year kids and different things like that.”
UNC (14-11, 4-8 ACC) outshot the Wolfpack from the field by over 16 percentage points through the opening 10 minutes, as sophomore guard Taylor Koenen and first-year forwards Jaelynn Murray and Janelle Bailey combined for 13 of UNC's 15 first-quarter points.
The shots stopped falling after that, however. From the second quarter onward, the Tar Heels only made 15 of 50 field-goal attempts. In the second quarter, UNC was outscored 20-6. Senior guard Jamie Cherry (11 points) and redshirt junior guard Paris Kea (21 points), two of UNC’s go-to players offensively, combined to only make 2 of 14 3-pointers. The Tar Heels, as a team, shot 10.5 percent from distance.
Cherry didn’t think N.C. State did anything specific to alter her shot. Instead, she thinks it was just one of those days where her shot couldn’t fall.
“I thought everybody played hard today,” Cherry said. “Like Coach said, we didn’t knock down shots. Me and Paris, we didn’t knock down shots that we normally knock down. But other than that, our rebounding wasn’t too good.”