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.
Who stood out?
Bailey went 8-15 to pick up 18 points, and nearly had a double-double with nine rebounds. The sophomore center showed versatility, hitting her first career 3-point attempt and gathering a steal. Kea continued to impress offensively, scoring 15 points, though she shot 28.6 percent from the field. Her team-leading four assists and four steals made up for her streaky shooting as she continues to be the leader of the team on the court.
Bennett has also been a boon for the Tar Heels through three games. She scored 10 points, and was just behind Kea in assists and steals with three apiece.
When was it decided?
UNC struggled to find its shot in the first half, while VCU did just enough to keep an edge on the Tar Heels for much of the half. After making back-to-back layups to come within one point of UNC at the start of the second half, VCU went ice cold. UNC was able to reel off 20 straight points in the quarter, while VCU was shut out for the nearly nine remaining minutes. By the end of the third quarter, it was North Carolina’s game to win as the team held a commanding 41-26 lead.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels are off to a 3-0 start. After several down seasons, UNC seems to have the right personnel to execute the fast-paced style of basketball that head coach Sylvia Hatchell prefers, and after three games the team is showing the ability to execute that game plan. With another win, the Tar Heels could tie their best start to a season since, 2014-2015 — the last time UNC mad an NCAA tournament appearance.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels travel to Colorado on Sunday, where they will take on the Buffaloes at 3 p.m.
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