The honeymoon is over for head coach Courtney Banghart and UNC women’s basketball.
After an early February win over Clemson, the team improved to 16-6 — its best start since the 2014-15 season. But the Tar Heels (16-9, 7-7 ACC) have since dropped their last three games, falling to rival Duke on the road, then Virginia Tech and Syracuse at home.
Following Thursday night’s 74-56 loss to the Orange (13-11, 7-6 ACC), Banghart didn’t have much to say. Apparently, neither did her players, as none were made available for post-game interviews.
“I don’t have a ton of thoughts,” she said. “We have to decide how good we want to be collectively and individually ... We’ve got some decisions to make in that locker room.”
UNC is first in the ACC in scoring with 73.9 points per game, but after shooting less than 30 percent from the floor for the second time in three games, the Tar Heels were held to a season-low 56 points. Even Taylor Koenen — the team’s second-leading scorer at 14.1 points per contest — couldn’t get going.
The senior finished with four points on 2-13 shooting from the field, and went into halftime having missed all eight of her first-half shot attempts. As a result, the Tar Heels trailed by 12 at the break.
“I appreciated that she didn’t shy away from the moment,” Banghart said. “She just couldn’t knock one down tonight.”
The closest UNC got in the second half was when it cut Syracuse’s lead to seven with 8:33 to go in the third quarter. From there, the Orange were again in full control.
Syracuse led by as many as 22, and at times, UNC looked completely out of gas.
“It’s that time of the season,” Banghart said. “You’ve got too many minutes on too few bodies, and you’ve just gotta dig a little bit deeper.”
Now in a tie for eighth place in the conference, the Tar Heels finish their regular season with their next three games on the road (where the team is 2-5) before returning to Carmichael Arena for a Senior Night rematch against Duke.
UNC will need to find an answer, and find it quickly, in order to regain momentum going into postseason play in March.
“Whenever you have a season of this length, you’re gonna have ups, downs and all-arounds,” Banghart said. “It’s always how you respond.”
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