DURHAM — Paris Kea stared out into the faces of the media members gathered for the postgame press conference after the UNC-Duke women’s basketball game. The redshirt senior guard took a long moment to think, before offering a few words to summarize her final regular season game in a Tar Heel uniform.
“Little upset that we lost to Duke,” Kea said with a dry smile. “In Cameron.”
If the answer was lackluster, it was fitting for one of the most lackluster games North Carolina has played this season. UNC lost to Duke, 62-44, ending the regular season on a two-game losing streak, having lost to N.C. State University last week.
For a team that’s had the high of defeating Notre Dame, the No. 1 squad in the country, the game Sunday was definitely a low. Both teams came out of the gate shooting poorly; the score was only 7-6 in favor of UNC (17-13, 8-8 ACC) halfway through the first quarter.
Duke took the lead at the 3:36 mark in the first quarter, and never gave it back as North Carolina continued to miss shot after shot.The Tar Heels only made 17 out of their 61 shot attempts in the game, only shooting better than 23.5 percent in one quarter.
There was a point in the fourth quarter where UNC cut the lead to just nine as Duke began to miss shots, and Kea hit a pull-up three to give the team momentum. That all disappeared after a botched fastbreak by Jocelyn Jones and Taylor Koenen, which then led to a 9-0 run by Duke to seal the game.
North Carolina struggled the entire game with Duke’s zone defense. Relying more heavily than normal on Kea, due to Stephanie Watts missing her third game in a row, UNC’s drives were often stopped at the point of attack, and open shots didn’t fall.
“We were trying to get the ball inside,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “I thought we had people open and good looks, but we weren’t getting it in there to them.”
The person open, more often than not, was Leah Church. Unfortunately for North Carolina, the sophomore guard couldn’t convert enough of those shots to keep North Carolina in the game. Stationed in the corners against the zone, Church took a career-high 11 3-point attempts, only making four.