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.
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.