DURHAM — Five weeks ago, the third quarter belonged to the North Carolina women's basketball team.
In the Tar Heels' 92-86 overtime win over Duke on Jan. 21, they scored the first seven points of the third quarter.
On Sunday, though, UNC scored seven points in the entire third quarter. No. 20 Duke outscored North Carolina 25-7, and the collapse helped extend UNC's losing streak to nine, as the team fell 70-54 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Heading into halftime, the Blue Devils led the Tar Heels by only two points, 31-29. It seemed as if UNC had a chance to break its eight-game losing streak.
“That third quarter really hurt us,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “Our problem all year has been when a team goes on a run like that, we don’t have someone that can stop the bleeding out there.”
The first points in the third quarter came from a Duke layup at the 8:43 mark. About 30 seconds later, Duke redshirt senior Rebecca Greenwell finished another layup for her first two of 15 points in the third quarter.
“Rebecca had a great game, and she’s a great shooter,” Hatchell said. “She’s proof that good shooting can cure a multitude of sins because the kid could hardly miss today.”
By the 7:29 mark in the third, Greenwell had already scored six of her 15 third-quarter points to give Duke its first double-digit lead of the day, 39-29.
The Tar Heels didn’t score after halftime until there was 3:36 left in the third quarter, when first-year Janelle Bailey hit a much-needed jumper. Bailey ended a 15-0 Blue Devil run that featured four UNC turnovers.
UNC wouldn’t score again until a minute and a half later when first-year Leah Church knocked down a 3-pointer to put the score at 51-34. The last time that the Tar Heels faced the Blue Devils, Church finished with a career-high 19 points — but she finished with six points on 2-8 shooting on Sunday.
After Greenwell hit her third 3-pointer of the quarter at the 1:30 mark, Bailey added two more points a few seconds later. The Tar Heels wouldn’t score again in the third quarter.
UNC finished the quarter with six turnovers. The Tar Heels shot 3-16 in comparison to the Blue Devils’ dominant 11-16 shooting.
After being down by two at halftime, UNC was down by 20 points, 56-36, heading into the final quarter. Jamie Cherry led the Tar Heels with 11 points at halftime, but the lone senior didn’t score at all in the third quarter.
Cherry knocked down three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to lead UNC with 20 points. She led UNC with 20 points on 6-16 shooting.
“We’ve just got to play better defense because our defense wasn’t where it was supposed to be,” Cherry said. “We were letting them get easy baskets.”
Bailey earned a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“I could step up a little bit more, but I think that I’ve done a pretty good job overall,” Bailey said. “I think that I’ve done a good job of stepping up and not being a freshman on the court.”
Redshirt junior Paris Kea — who scored 36 points in the matchup between the two teams earlier this season — followed behind Bailey with nine points. Duke’s defense capitalized on 13 steals, while UNC only tallied a total of three steals. The Blue Devils scored 22 points of off the Tar Heels’ 20 turnovers.
“They put it on us,” Hatchell said. “We’ve got to do a better job at settling down and taking care of the ball.”
In the fourth quarter, UNC outscored Duke 18-14, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Blue Devils’ dominant third quarter.
The Tar Heels will head to Greensboro for the ACC Tournament this week, where they'll be seeded No. 12 and open tournament play against No. 13 Boston College at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
"Our defense has been better coming into these games, so we're going to take that into the next game against Boston College," Cherry said. "We owe them, being that we lost to them earlier in the season."
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