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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's basketball tops Virginia Tech, 81-69, ahead of date with No. 1 Notre Dame

Paris Kea FSU
UNC Guard Paris Kea (22) shoots against FSU in Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. UNC lost 63-64.

The North Carolina women’s basketball team (11-9, 2-4 ACC) entered Thursday night’s matchup with the Virginia Tech Hokies (13-6, 0-6 ACC) desperate to turn things around after dropping four of its first five ACC matchups. The Tar Heels fought hard to beat the Hokies, 81-69, in an important confidence-restoring win ahead of an impending matchup with No. 1 Notre Dame this Sunday. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels came out strong, keeping pace with the Hokies. UNC shot 3 of 7 on 3-point shots in the first quarter and ended the frame tied at 21 with Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels kept it close for the majority of the second quarter and the game was tied at 33 a piece with 4:35 left in the half. In the final 4:35, however, the Hokies went on a 16-5 run to establish a 10-point lead at halftime. 

The Tar Heels opened the second half determined to close the gap and went on a 9-1 run capped by a 3-point shot from redshirt junior guard Stephanie Watts that narrowed the Hokies’ lead to two. The basket inspired Virginia Tech to use its first timeout of the second half only two and half minutes into the third quarter. 

The Tar Heels kept fighting and sophomore center Janelle Bailey made a layup with 5:34 left in the quarter to restore the tie for the first time in the second half. Soon after, Bailey muscled her way into the paint to give the Tar Heels their first lead since the 4:35 mark in the second quarter. 

The Tar Heels held their lead for the remainder of the quarter until Virginia Tech’s first-year guard Dara Mabrey sunk a jump shot as the third quarter buzzer sounded to tie the game at 61 heading into the final period.

Redshirt senior guard Paris Kea made a jumper for the Tar Heels on their first possession of the fourth quarter to give UNC a lead it would maintain for the rest of the game. The Tar Heels’ defense was suffocating, only allowing the Hokies to score eight points in the final quarter. 

Despite being down by 10-points headed into halftime, the Tar Heels outscored the Hokies 43-21 in the second half to secure their second ACC win of the season. 

Who stood out?

Kea and Bailey led the team in scoring on the night. Bailey, who scored 21 points, made a crucial pair of field goals to help dissolve the Hokies’ 10-point lead at the beginning of the second half. UNC's all-time scoring leader Kea added a season-high 26 points that were crucial to the Tar Heels wearing out the Hokies’ defense. 

When was it decided?

UNC quickly and decisively dismantled Virginia Tech’s halftime lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter. North Carolina's confidence appeared to soar through the roof once the game was tied again while the Hokies' offense struggled to fully recover.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels entered the matchup 1-4 in ACC play, including a heartbreaking 1-point loss to Florida State in its ACC home opener. This win provides a boost of confidence to a Tar Heel team that will need several strong performances during the remainder of the season to avoid missing the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will return home to take on No. 1 Notre Dame this Sunday at 2 p.m. as part of the National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration.


@DTHSports |

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