The North Carolina women’s basketball team almost certainly saw its season end on Wednesday with a first-round ACC Tournament loss to Wake Forest, 83-73.
After the Tar Heels struck first, gaining a 4-0 lead, they maintained a lead through the game’s first five minutes. Wake Forest found its first lead midway through the period by way of a 3-pointer from Ivana Raca and maintained a slight edge into the first break, taking a 20-17 lead into the start of the second quarter.
Forward Janelle Bailey made a return to the floor after missing the last three games due to injury, and the junior quickly amassed three fouls and spent the majority of the half sidelined.
Playing in what was likely her last game with UNC, senior Taylor Koenen caught fire in the first half. The guard notched 14 points on 60 percent shooting for the Tar Heels in the first half and led the team on its way to a 37-35 deficit going into halftime.
Koenen continued her offensive tear in the second half, but the Tar Heels remained behind the Demon Deacons. UNC kept the game close, largely by offensive contributions from Koenen and fellow seniors Madinah Muhammad and Shayla Bennett, with all of them notching at least six points in the quarter. Despite this offensive surge, North Carolina went into the final period of play down 61-56.
To start the fourth quarter, the Demon Deacons went on a massive 18-5 run that spelled the end for the Tar Heels. With a 79-61 lead going into the final five minutes of play, UNC went on a run of its own in search of a comeback, but the damage had been done.
With Wake Forest only adding five points to the scoreboard over five minutes, North Carolina cut its deficit down to 10, but it wasn't enough as Wake Forest moved on to the second round with an 83-73 victory.