The North Carolina women's basketball team (3-0) handed VCU (2-1) its first loss of the season on Wednesday with a second-half defensive performance that saw the Rams go scoreless for more than 10 minutes. UNC won the game, 59-47.
Both teams pushed the pace from the whistle, finding openings and shot opportunities with quick ball movement. The difference early on was that the opportunities were turning into points for VCU. The Rams hit three of their first six field goals to go up, 8-3. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels were shooting just 2-11 with 3:38 left in the first period.
Down 11-5, redshirt senior Paris Kea hit a shot from the baseline and was fouled on the play. She converted the free throw, bringing UNC within three. After that, VCU came back down from its hot start with back-to-back missed jumpers.
Junior transfer Shayla Bennett flipped a layup in to bring the Tar Heels within one point, but UNC missed its last three field goals and couldn’t come any closer in the first quarter. On the other side of the floor, however, VCU missed its last eight field goals of the quarter and failed to help its own cause.
The second period went back and forth, but UNC got the advantage at the end of the period. A steal under the basket by redshirt junior guard Stephanie Watts led to a Janelle Bailey hook shot for two, putting the Tar Heels up by three. A would-be game tying 3-pointer by VCU’s Taya Robinson rolled off the rim at the buzzer, giving the Tar Heels the lead at the half.
The third quarter was an all-UNC show. After cutting the lead to one, VCU did not make another shot for the remaining nine minutes of the third quarter. Meanwhile, UNC scored 16 points to run the lead up to 41-26.
After breaking a scoring drought of over ten minutes, the Rams began to chip away at the Tar Heel lead in the fourth quarter. They outscored UNC 21-18 in the final ten minutes, but were unable to dig their way out of the hole that they fell in with their shaky third period as UNC went on to win, 59-47.