The North Carolina women’s basketball team beat UNC Charlotte 81-75 in a close-fought Sunday afternoon matchup.
UNC started out shaky, with Charlotte getting out to a 6-0 lead as the Tar Heels missed their first two shots and turned the ball over on an inbounds pass. They quickly got back on track however, with Stephanie Watts swishing a 3-pointer and Deja Kelly finishing through a foul and hitting a free throw to take the lead. The remainder of the first quarter stayed competitive, but the Tar Heels were able to draw fouls and hit their free throws, which gave them a 21-15 lead by the end of the period.
UNC stretched their lead out to eight at one point in the second quarter, but the 49ers were able to force turnovers and out-rebound the Tar Heels to creep back into the game, and the Tar Heels went into halftime with a razor thin one-point lead.
After a slow start, UNC center Janelle Bailey began to get into her groove, scoring on a shifty post move to put the team ahead 51-47 then drawing a charge on the other end of the court. First-year guard Alyssa Ustby contributed seven third-quarter points, including the last six points of the quarter for the Tar Heels to put them up by nine, their largest lead of the game. A 3-pointer from Charlotte’s Cali Konek cut the UNC lead down to six going into the final quarter.
Konek started the fourth quarter the same way she had ended the third, draining another 3-pointer to put the 49ers within three points of the Heels. Watts responded with a 3-pointer of her own, and from then on she took control of the UNC offense in the closing minutes. She scored 12 of the Tar Heels’ final 18 points, making key jump shots and going to the line to secure the win.
Who stood out?
UNC’s two graduate players, Watts and Petra Holešínská, drew from their experience to close out the game for the Tar Heels. They shot a combined 14-18 from the free throw line and each put up two 3-pointers. Watts was the team’s leading scorer with 17 points along with six rebounds and four assists, while Holešínská had 13 points and five assists.
Charlotte’s Jett-Wilson high-scoring effort kept the 49ers in the hunt for the upset victory all game. The senior guard hit her shots from all over the court, pairing her three 3-pointers with three free throws and some impressive inside-the-paint finishes. On top of her 22 points, she dished out four assists, grabbed three rebounds, and picked off two steals.