As fans filed into Carmichael Arena on Thursday night, the North Carolina women’s basketball team lined up along the baseline and ran quickly across the court in unison. Little did the fans know that an electric first half would help propel the team to victory against ACC opponent Wake Forest.
North Carolina (10-8, 1-3 ACC) comfortably defeated the Demon Deacons, 84-61, and secured its first conference win of the season. Before the game, the Tar Heels were 0-3 in ACC play.
Right from the opening tip, the Tar Heels started fast. On their first possession of the game, sophomore center Janelle Bailey scored in the paint to give her team a lead. Shortly after North Carolina took a 4-0 lead, redshirt sophomore Jocelyn Jones joined in and laid the ball into the basket off a fastbreak to give her team a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes. Four other Tar Heels joined in and scored during the opening quarter —Taylor Koenen, Paris Kea, Shayla Bennett and Stephanie Watts. By the time the first buzzer sounded, North Carolina had opened up a 24-10 lead.
The Tar Heels did not slow down from there. In the second period, Koenen contributed a quick five points. She made a layup on UNC's first possession of the period, then pulled up just behind the arc and sunk a step back 3-pointer on the next possession. In addition to Koenen, Watts made her presence known. In the second quarter alone, Watts scored on four separate occasions and tallied nine points.
To close out the half, Kea saw her shot blocked. However, with the seconds dwindling away, the redshirt senior guard scooped up the ball off the rebound and shot again. Her shot fell through the net as the final second ticked off the clock.