RALEIGH — Ticker screens flashed outside of Valvano Arena at Reynolds Coliseum, alternating between red and green: “SOLD OUT.” Inside the arena, North Carolina (14-9, 5-4 ACC) stepped into a hostile environment to take on No. 7 N.C. State (21-1, 8-1 ACC), the only remaining unbeaten team in the country entering Sunday afternoon.
Exactly a week removed from their historic victory over then No. 1 Notre Dame, the Tar Heels were in giant slaying form again. UNC found consistency in the second half, ending N.C. State’s program-record 21 game winning streak with a 64-51 victory.
The Tar Heels and Wolfpack handed the advantage back and forth in the first half, changing leads nine times.
UNC was able to get close looks at the basket. Despite picking up two fouls in the first quarter, sophomore Janelle Bailey led the effort down low, while redshirt junior Stephanie Watts and junior Taylor Koenen were also effective in getting the ball up. It also helped UNC that the team took care of the ball, turning the ball over just three times to N.C. State’s six.
N.C. State had much greater success moving the ball in half court sets, however, with six first half assists to UNC’s three. They cashed those out for five 3-pointers on 11 attempts. From beyond the arc, the Tar Heels struggled to convert early. They missed their first seven three pointers, and missed eight of nine in the first half — including a Paris Kea shot with five seconds remaining in the second quarter that sent them to the locker room down 32-31.
Kea found her groove midway through the third period, pulling up for a triple that gave UNC a 41-38 lead. A Watts three-pointer also helped, but it was Bailey, playing with three fouls, who continued to handle the Wolfpack defense in the post as UNC’s lead ballooned to 10 by the end of the third period.
A whistle-heavy fourth quarter put both teams in foul trouble, but UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell stuck with her starting five as N.C. State tried to claw back into the game. Whenever the Wolfpack threatened, North Carolina always had an answer, never letting its opponent get closer than eight points in the final quarter as UNC picked up its second marquee win in just over a week.