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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's basketball stuns No. 1 Notre Dame, 78-73, in historic upset

women's basketball notre dame sidebar
Junior guard Stephanie Watts (5) drives up the court in Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. UNC defeated Notre Dame 78-73.

Sylvia Hatchell has talked this season about wanting to bring championships back to Chapel Hill again. 

Beating the defending national champions is a start. 

In what will be remembered as one of the most improbable and impressive wins in program history, the North Carolina women’s basketball team defeated No. 1 Notre Dame Sunday afternoon at Carmichael Arena, 78-73. 

Paris Kea, UNC’s creative and unnerved redshirt senior guard, scored a game-high 30 points for the Tar Heels, who won their third ACC game in four tries. 

Up by 10 points in the early portions of the fourth quarter, UNC survived a Notre Dame rally that saw the Fighting Irish regain the lead, and closed the game on a 15-8 run in the final 4:34. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels benefited from good defensive play and 2-point shooting to keep Notre Dame within two points at halftime. The team had 10 assists in the first half, five of those came from redshirt senior guard Paris Kea. Redshirt junior guard Stephanie Watts led the Tar Heels offensively in the first half with 11 points, nine of which came from 3-point shots. 

UNC began to pull away from Notre Dame in the third quarter. The Tar Heels exploded for 28 points in the frame to take a 62-53 lead. UNC made five threes in the quarter, four of them were made by Kea.

Notre Dame came out firing in the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run which gave the Fighting Irish a two-point lead. The storm was weathered by a couple buckets from sophomore center Janelle Bailey. The Tar Heels then took a four-point lead off of a 3-pointer from Watts with 2:39 remaining in the game. Notre Dame then tied the game but another 3-pointer, this time from sophomore Leah Church with 1:25 left, gave UNC a lead that they would never surrender.

Who stood out?

Kea led UNC with 30 points and 10 assists. She only scored seven points in the first half but heated up at the start of the second half, scoring 19 of the Tar Heels’ 28 points in the third quarter. 

The UNC defense was also impressive. The Tar Heels forced 20 turnovers and scored 21 points off them. 

When was it decided?

Notre Dame went on a 12-0 run to take a lead with 4:34 left in the game. The Tar Heels responded with a 6-0 run to take the lead with 2:39 remaining and never trailed again.

Why does it matter?

Upsetting the defending national champion and No. 1 team in the nation is a big confidence booster for the Tar Heels, who were 2-4 in ACC play heading into the game. The victory provides a resume booster as UNC looks to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

When do they play next?

UNC will face Georgia Tech at home in Carmichael Arena on Thursday.

@Brennan_Doherty | @matt_chilson

@DTHSports |

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