That shooting, however, waned in the second quarter. With five minutes remaining in the half, UNC was shooting 1-11 from deep and 9-23 from the field. Despite those struggles, the Tar Heels still just trailed 28-23.
The Blue Devils ultimately capitalized on North Carolina’s cold offense. Behind guards Gorecki (11 points) and Miela Goodchild (10), Duke carried a 41-32 lead into halftime.
The third quarter brought more of the same — the Blue Devils outscored the Tar Heels, 15-11, and maintained a comfortable lead throughout. UNC, which trailed 56-43 after three, opted for 3-point shooting but still couldn’t buy a bucket.
North Carolina trailed by as many as 19 in an uneventful fourth quarter. With 1:24 left, Koenen subbed out to a standing ovation. The final buzzer on a bittersweet Senior Day sounded minutes later.
Who stood out?
Koenen scored a game-high 18 in her final game at Carmichael Arena and added eight rebounds and four assists. Tshitenge had a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double, and Bennett also reached double figures with 10.
Gorecki, who shot 8-14 from the field, was the standout for Duke, but the Blue Devils also got a balanced offensive performance in their win. Outside of Gorecki, five players scored at least seven points.
When was it decided?
With 4:52 left in the second quarter, North Carolina trailed by just five points. But out of that break, Duke went on a 13-6 run to end the half. The Blue Devils’ 28-23 lead quickly became 42-31 — their largest of the first half. North Carolina never got within striking distance again.
Why does it matter?
Entering the month of February, UNC hadn’t lost consecutive games all season. But on Sunday, the Tar Heels ended their first regular season under coach Courtney Banghart on a season-worst seven-game skid.
The team’s last three losses, it should be noted, came without Bailey, its leading scorer and rebounder.
After the game, UNC also honored its seven seniors: Koenen, Bennett, Muhammad, guard Liz Roberts, forwards Olivia Smith and Emily Sullivan and center Naomi Van Nes.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will try to keep its season alive in the 2020 ACC Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Greensboro.
The Tar Heels entered the game against Duke at 10th place in the conference. The final seeding won’t be determined until later Sunday night, but North Carolina will open ACC play on either Wednesday or Thursday as a bottom-half seed.
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