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North Carolina women's basketball scrapes by with 81-75 win over UNC-Charlotte


UNC graduate guard Stephanie Watts (5) avoids UNC Charlotte players during a game in Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. UNC beat UNCC 81-75. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications. 

The North Carolina women’s basketball team beat UNC Charlotte 81-75 in a close-fought Sunday afternoon matchup.

What happened?

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.

When was it decided?

The Tar Heels held the lead for nearly 34 minutes of game time, but Charlotte kept up with their pace well into the fourth quarter. A made 3-pointer by Charlotte’s Mariah Linney gave the 49ers a 69-68 lead with four minutes remaining. The teams played tug-of-war with the lead for the next minute as the Tar Heels went up by three on a jumper and two free throws from Watts, but a Charlotte lay up and a UNC turnover leading to a foul gave the lead right back to the 49ers. Watts then drew another foul and hit both her free throws and redshirt sophomore Ariel Young hit a corner 3-point shot to put UNC ahead by four.

UNC was able to hold onto this lead, hitting free throws as they had done all game to finally put away Charlotte 81-75.

Why does it matter?

This game was the Tar Heels’ biggest test before starting ACC play this week. Charlotte had a somewhat deceiving 0-3 record entering this tonight, having played two ACC opponents, Wake Forest and Clemson, in two close games. After four blow-out wins, the Tar Heels showed their ability to fight through adversity and win in a close, gritty game for the first time this season.

When do they play next?

The team will play next on Thursday, Dec. 10 against Wake Forest at 6 p.m. to kick off their ACC slate of games.


@DTHSports |

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Lucas Thomae

Lucas Thomae is the 2023-24 sports managing editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as an assistant sports editor and summer editor. Lucas is a senior pursuing a major in journalism and media with a minor in data science.