GREENSBORO — In the opening game of the 2018 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon, the North Carolina women’s basketball team avenged a January loss against Boston College with a 69-64 win. The Tar Heels ended their nine-game losing streak.
Sixteen seconds into the game, redshirt junior Paris Kea scored the first points of the game on a 3-pointer to give UNC (15-15) an early 3-0 lead over Boston College (7-23).
Kea finished the first quarter with 10 points to give the 12th-seeded Tar Heels a 15-6 lead over the 13th-seeded Eagles. Boston College’s six first-quarter points were the second fewest points that UNC has allowed during any quarter all season.
“She’s such a versatile player and she’s a great teammate,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said of Kea. “She doesn’t want the focus or attention on her, but she just wants to win.”
A lay-up by redshirt first-year Jocelyn Jones fifteen seconds into the second quarter gave UNC an 11-point lead, but Boston College refused to have another low scoring quarter.
The Eagles offense turned around quickly and sank six 3-pointers in the second quarter.
At a media timeout with 4:42 left until halftime, the Eagles had shot their way back into the game and were only down by one, 22-21. Before the media timeout was called, Boston College was on a 6-0 run over the last 1:13 of play.
From there, the Eagles kept chipping into the Tar Heels’ lead, but Kea’s shooting kept North Carolina in the game. With eight seconds left in the half, Boston College’s Taylor Ortlepp nailed yet another 3-pointer to put the Eagles down by three at halftime, 31-28. The Eagles finished the quarter shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line.
At halftime, Kea led all scorers with 20 points on 8-13 shooting.
On Wednesday morning, first-year forward Janelle Bailey was named ACC Freshman of the Year. During the first half of the game, however, she was visibly frustrated and wasn’t performing as well as usual.
Bailey finished the first half with zero points on 0-7 shooting with eight rebounds. In the second half, though, Bailey was prepared to expand her game and knock down jump shots.
“The second half, we ran something where Bailey pulled out and got the ball in the high post area,” Hatchell said. “That’s an area of her game that she doesn’t show that much, but she has really been working on.”
Over a minute and a half into the third quarter, Bailey came to life and scored her first points of the game off of a layup to put UNC up by four, 35-31.
With 4:42 left to play in the third, Boston College took its first lead of the game, 40-39. A pair of jumpers from Kea and Bailey put the Tar Heels up by three, and UNC wouldn’t lose the lead again for the remainder of the game.
A Bailey layup ended the third quarter and gave UNC a 51-46 lead. In the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels held a 10-point lead with 8:13 left to play.
After Boston College knocked down its fourth 3-pointer of the quarter, UNC was only up by three, 65-62, with 1:11 left in the game.
A pair of free throws from senior Jamie Cherry pushed the Tar Heels’ lead to five with 38 seconds left to play. Bailey followed suit with 14 seconds left with another set of free throws to give UNC a five-point lead after Boston College scored a quick layup.
From there, UNC held on to its 69-64 lead to advance to the second round of the ACC Tournament. Kea, a Greensboro native, led the way for the Tar Heels with 28 points on 12-22 shooting.
“All of my family was here, and some friends were in the stands,” Kea said. “I had Greensboro on my back today.”
After failing to score in the first half, Bailey recorded her 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds. This was also Bailey’s sixth double-double during the team’s last seven games.
“It’s surreal to me,” Bailey said of her award. “It’s crazy to think about, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and my coaches.”
North Carolina will have a chance to avenge a pair of losses against fifth-seeded N.C. State Thursday morning at 11 a.m.
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