The shorthanded North Carolina women’s basketball team (16-12, 7-10 ACC) fell to Notre Dame (12-17, 7-10 ACC) on Thursday night, 83-65, extending its losing streak to six games.
Without junior center Janelle Bailey, UNC struggled to get into any kind of rhythm offensively or defensively, contributing to a blowout loss at the hands of a sub-.500 team.
The Irish shot the ball well early, putting the Tar Heels in an early hole and taking a 10-2 lead four minutes into the game.
UNC was able to cut the deficit to three behind points from seniors Taylor Koenen and Shayla Bennett, but Notre Dame never lost its shooting touch.
The Irish shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half and sank seven of nine 3-point attempts, a surprise given their conference-worst season average of 26 percent. This helped them maintain a comfortable lead 43-32 halftime lead.
North Carolina was able to stay in the game by scoring in the paint, despite the absence of Bailey, and took advantage of eight Notre Dame turnovers.
The second half began, though, with a 14-3 Irish run to bring their lead up to 22. The Tar Heels found themselves unable to establish any sort of offense to get back into the game.
Notre Dame first-year Sam Brunelle and sophomore Kailyn Gilbert combined for 26 in the second half, and were the main reasons for keeping UNC at bay late.
Who stood out?
Koenen scored in double figures for the third straight game, tallying 19 points on 7-19 shooting. She proved to be one of the lone bright spots in another poor offensive performance during the team's losing streak.
Bennett also had a solid night, picking up 17 points in 40 minutes and leading the team with eight rebounds.
When was it decided?
The Irish controlled the game from the opening tip, but their run to start the third quarter took the Tar Heels out of the game. Any momentum that UNC had left was taken away and never reclaimed.
Why does it matter?
It has been an incredibly tough few weeks for UNC, having come into the game against the Irish on a five-game losing streak.
A win seemed possible against a Notre Dame team having a down year. The 2018 national champions came into this game with an 11-17 record and just snapped a losing streak of their own after winning against Syracuse.
But the loss of Bailey proved to be too much for the Tar Heels to overcome on both offensive end and the glass. They shot only 31.6 percent from the floor and were out-rebounded 46-37.
North Carolina also continued its defensive woes, allowing its opponent to shoot over 50 percent for the third straight game.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will look for a positive end to an up-and-down regular season when they host rival Duke on Sunday at 2 p.m.
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