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Saturday May 21st

North Carolina women's basketball falls to Duke, 85-69, without Paris Kea

<p>Guard Leah Church (20) shoots a 3 pointer against Duke on Feb. 25 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.</p>
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Guard Leah Church (20) shoots a 3 pointer against Duke on Feb. 25 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The North Carolina women’s basketball team (14-10, 5-5) saw its four-game winning streak come to an end Thursday night in an 85-69 loss to Duke.

What happened?

The absence of redshirt senior guard Paris Kea, who was out with an illness, was felt early as the Blue Devils (11-11, 3-7 ACC) sprinted out to a 12-6 lead. Head coach Sylvia Hatchell decided to make a change early, putting sophomore guard Leah Church into the game. 

Church immediately made an impact as she sunk a 3-pointer to swing the momentum UNC’s way. The 3-point specialist did her thing again from well beyond the arc as the clock ran out on the first quarter to give the Tar Heels a 24-18 lead.

That momentum that North Carolina had fizzled out in the second quarter, as the team was outscored 22-7 in the frame. Duke ended on an 18-2 run in the final 7:15 of the half to give the Blue Devils a 40-31 lead heading into the intermission.

The Tar Heels brought the score to within five twice in the third quarter, but strong offensive rebounds by Duke at the end of the quarter helped preserve its lead. Haley Gorecki scored 11 of Duke’s 20 points in the quarter to give the Blue Devils a 60-52 advantage heading into the final frame.

Duke continued to shoot lights out in the fourth quarter to ice the game. Redshirt junior guard Stephanie Watts hit a 3-pointer to make it a 10 point game with 4:09 remaining, but a comeback was not to be. 

Watts had a chance to make it a seven-point game on UNC’s next possession, but her 3-point attempt rimmed out. The Blue Devils coasted the rest of the game on their way to victory.

Who stood out?

Gorecki torched the Tar Heels for 28 points on 9-17 shooting. UNC couldn’t contain the Duke guard as she scored 18 of her points in the second half. 

Sophomore center Janelle Bailey led the Tar Heels with 23 points and 8 rebounds.

When was it decided?

The game was decided when Duke ended the first half on an 18-2 run. UNC never recovered and could only get to within five the rest of the game.

The Tar Heels had some chances to get back into the game in the second half but poor shooting prevented them from catching the Blue Devils. North Carolina shot just 33.3 percent from the field, compared to Duke’s 56.9 percent.

Why does it matter?

UNC was on a four-game winning streak and trending up before the loss. The game was also yet another reminder of Kea's worth; her absence cost North Carolina dearly. The Tar Heels will need to gather themselves before a two-game road trip.

When do they play next?

Next, the Tar Heels will travel to Clemson to face the Tigers at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

@matt_chilson

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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