GREENSBORO — Paris Kea wasn’t ready to go home. Not like this, not after her team limped through the end to the regular season by dropping its last nine games.
So on Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the ACC Tournament, she took matters into her own hands. North Carolina defeated Boston College 69-64 in the 12-seed, 13-seed matchup. And it was Kea who led the way, just as she has so many other times this season. Her game-high 28 points came just a day after being named First-Team All-ACC.
“It’s tournament time now so she knows she has to elevate and do what she can do,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “And not be so concerned about getting everybody else shots and things like that.”
Kea’s performance was extra special for her due to the people that were in attendance. A large group of her family and friends made the trip to the Greensboro Coliseum to support the talented guard. Kea, who is from Tarboro, N.C., but went to Page High School in Greensboro, had never played in the stadium before and did not take the experience lightly.
“I don’t know, it felt great,” she said with a grin on her face. “Scoring 28 first time playing here, dream come true.”
From the moment the ball was jumped, there she was, ready to go. Sixteen seconds into the game she hit a 3-pointer, the first points scored by either team. The energy she brought in the opening frame was reflective on the stat sheet. She had ten points and three steals while outscoring Boston College, 10-6.
In the second quarter, she added ten more points, connecting on two more 3-pointers. At the half, she had 20 points and had hit four of five 3-pointers, just one off tying her season high. More importantly, her team had a 31-28 edge.
Not only was UNC fighting to live on another day and extend senior guard Jamie Cherry’s career, but the team was also trying to avenge an earlier season loss at Boston College. In that game, Kea had struggled, going 6-17 from the field.
But in perhaps her biggest game since coming to Chapel Hill, she was not about to let her team go down easily.