This could be a story about Shayla Bennett, whose team-high 20 points came when North Carolina needed them most. Or Taylor Koenen, who contributed a crucial double-double of her own. Or Janelle Bailey’s defense. Or Madinah Muhammad’s free-throw shooting.
See where this is going?
This monumental win for the women’s basketball team — a 66-60 upset of No. 9 N.C. State, which entered the game 14-0 — was no one player’s doing. It was about as egalitarian as a basketball game can get. And that’s exactly how the Tar Heels, who moved to 12-3 on Wednesday night, wanted it to be.
“Everyone brought their piece today,” Koenen said.
Under the leadership of first-year coach Courtney Banghart, UNC has been reinvigorated: blowing out non-conference opponents, securing Power 5 wins and having unashamed fun along the way to its best start since 2014-15.
But, for a team that ranked 110th in the NCAA’s RPI, which measures strength of schedule, before this game, the Wolfpack were undoubtedly a “prove-it” opponent.
N.C. State came to Chapel Hill with a spotless record and a host of talented players, most notably star sophomore Elissa Cunane, the reigning National Player of the Week, and sharp-shooting guard Aislinn Konig.
The Tar Heels played David to the Wolfpack’s Goliath last February, when they handed 21-0 N.C. State its first loss of the season at Reynolds Coliseum. More present on North Carolina’s mind, though, was the revenge N.C. State enacted on their rival later in the month at Carmichael Arena.
Case in point: storylines were abound for an already-major rivalry game.