The North Carolina women’s basketball team (8-8, 3-8 ACC) fell, 61-51, in a home matchup against Florida State (6-4, 5-4 ACC) on Thursday night, resulting in its third straight conference loss.
Both the Tar Heels and Seminoles came out looking energetic but lacking offensive flow, with both shooting at a low percentage from the field — UNC at 20 percent and FSU at 31.3 percent at the end of the first quarter. UNC’s only lead of 2 points also occurred in the first period, with a 2-0 lead at 9:04.
Florida State found its momentum with the help of guard Morgan Jones heading in the second quarter, with Jones scoring seven points in the period and helping put the Seminoles up 29-18 at the end of the half.
But the Tar Heels weren’t completely out for the count.
Graduate guard Stephanie Watts helped with a huge momentum shift, scoring big back-to-back threes with 6:04 left in the third period, bringing the score to 38-25, FSU. Senior center Janelle Bailey followed with a layup, completing an 8-0 Tar Heel run. After coughing up some more points, the Tar Heels finished the third quarter on a strong note with a buzzer beater by redshirt sophomore guard Ariel Young bringing the score to 48-35, FSU to end the period.
However, the Seminoles offense proved too quick for the Tar Heels to try to chip away at their deficit in the fourth quarter, with FSU claiming a 61-51 victory.
Who stood out?
Watts was a clear stand-out for the Tar Heels tonight. Not only did she have 11 points, two 3-pointers and five total rebounds, but her shots came at crucial moments for UNC to build momentum and climb its way back into the game. Watts’ back-to-back threes to end the Seminoles' 9-0 run coming out of halftime reduced the Tar Heels' deficit to just eleven points.
Bailey was also a strong contributor on UNC’s offense, with 10 points and four offensive rebounds out of 10 total.
As for the Seminoles, Jones’ double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds helped build a consistent lead against the Tar Heels, with the majority of her stat-sheet stuffing coming before the fourth quarter.
When was it decided?
While the scores were disparate, UNC's momentum meant the game came down to the wire. Just when it looked like the Tar Heels were out, someone would hit a clutch shot and restore some semblance of hope. But despite a hot shooting streak towards the end of the fourth quarter with efforts from Bailey, first-year forward Alexandra Zelaya and first-year guard Kennedy Todd-Williams, the Tar Heels couldn’t stop the Seminole offense.
By the end, UNC's offense couldn't keep pace, and defeat became apparent with a nine-point deficit with 36 seconds to go in the last period.
Why does it matter?
This is the third straight ACC loss for the Tar Heels, causing them to fall to 4-7 in conference. The loss displays UNC's struggles in building big-picture momentum this season, with tonight being especially crucial as the team's first home game after consecutive road losses.
It also shows that UNC needs to find ways to win without some of their key players. After three consecutive games scoring over 20 points, graduate guard Petra Holešínská went an abysmal 1-13 from the field on the night, and the Tar Heels couldn't cope without her scoring, leading to the loss.
When do they play next?
UNC faces No. 4 N.C. State (12-1, 7-1 ACC) at Carmichael Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m.
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