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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's basketball struggles early, cannot come back late against Miami

Junior guard Stephanie Watts (5) charges up the court during a game against Wake Forest in Carmichael Arena on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. UNC won 84 to 61.

The UNC women’s basketball team fell to Miami, 76-68, on Sunday in Coral Gables, Fla. 

What happened?

The Hurricanes broke out to a staggering lead, scoring 27 points to North Carolina’s five with 24 seconds left in the first quarter. The Tar Heels didn't score for more than seven minutes during the opening quarter, and finished with eight points and in a massive deficit at the first break.

At the beginning of the second quarter, the Tar Heels gained more steam, led by junior Taylor Koenen and redshirt junior Stephanie Watts. UNC came out and made several 3-pointers, but it was still outscored by the Hurricanes, 15-14. By halftime, Miami amassed a 20 point lead. 

The Hurricanes continued to hold a significant control of the game throughout the third quarter. The game went largely back and forth, with both teams creating shots or draw fouls. Notably, UNC’s Taylor Koenen had three steals, all in the third quarter.

It was not until the fourth quarter when the Tar Heels mounted a comeback, scoring 28 points to bring the game close. Down the stretch, UNC went on a 16-2 run, receiving major contributions from behind the arc from Watts and sophomore Leah Church during that period. 

UNC went on an eight-point tear in the final 40 seconds of action, recording a lay-up, a steal, and two three pointers. Nevertheless, Miami held off the rally and won by eight.

Who stood out?

Watts led the Tar Heels with 22 points on 9-21 from the field. The redshirt junior guard also posted a team-high 5 assists along the way to her 17th double-double, her first in over two years.

Redshirt senior Paris Kea, the next leading scorer, was also instrumental for the Tar Heels and clocked in 38 minutes of play time. Notably, sophomore Janelle Bailey, who leads the Tar Heels in scoring this season, did not play in the first half.

When was it decided?

The game was nearly put away in the first quarter, when the Hurricanes went on a 21-0 run. Although the Tar Heel gained some momentum in the fourth quarter, they could not compensate for the early deficit.

Why does it matter?

With a loss, the Tar Heels drop to a 10-9 record, and a dismal 1-4 in the conference. Watts, who led the game in points and rebounds, showed to be one of the team’s most productive players, even as the team continued to tumble in conference play. 

Despite the late-game heroics, UNC lost its momentum early due to a 21-0 run from the Hurricanes. If the Tar Heels hope to stop the bleeding the rest of the way, they'll need to find a rhythm like they have late in games by tip-off. 

The Hurricanes limited UNC to just 34 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point land. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will play Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. 

@DTHSports |

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