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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's basketball completes 76-69 upset win over No. 4 N.C. State

UNC senior center Janelle Bailey prepares a shot during a game against N.C. State in Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. UNC upset N.C. State 76-69. Photo courtesy of Dana Gentry.

North Carolina women’s basketball bested the No. 4 N.C. State Wolfpack, 76-69,  in a major upset on Sunday afternoon breaking its streak of three-straight conference losses. 

What happened?

First-year Alyssa Ustby led the Tar Heels in the first quarter, scoring eight points. UNC put N.C. State through a scoring drought for over three minutes toward the end of the opening frame, ending with a Tar Heel lead at the end of the first quarter, 19-16. 

N.C. State shook off its momentary lack of scoring by starting the second quarter with four immediate points from the paint. UNC’s offense cranked up the heat toward the end of the quarter, going 6-0 from the floor for a stretch, which resulted in a seven-point Tar Heel lead at the end of the first half. 

N.C. State wasn’t going down without a fight, though, and came out in the second half with more aggression. The Wolfpack were desperately trying to get points on the board, but they went 0-6 from the field to start the second half.  

After a media timeout, the Wolfpack seemed to regain their footing while the Tar Heels slowly lost theirs. UNC began to struggle in completing their shots, while the Wolfpack came alive, making up the 12-point difference that the Tar Heels had toward the beginning of the third quarter and took the lead, 52-49, entering the final frame. 

Going into the fourth quarter, the teams were separated by just three points and stayed close to that range for a while, matching each other shot for shot. Several 3-pointers from Ustby and graduate transfer guard Petra  Holešínská maintained UNC’s lead, but not by much. N.C. State was mostly there with one answering shot after another. 

In the end, the Tar Heels were able to topple the ACC giant with a score of 76-69.

Who stood out? 

Holešínská scored some critical points for UNC in the fourth quarter that allowed the Tar Heels to keep their lead narrowly over the Wolfpack. 

Graduate transfer guard Stephanie Watts lead the game in scoring during the fourth quarter with 10 points to help UNC secure the win, chipping in nine rebounds and three blocks to boot. 

Ustby showed up in a big way for UNC today, scoring a total of 20 points for the Tar Heels. Ustby’s 3-point presence particularly aided UNC, as she went 4-4 from beyond the arch. 

When was it decided?

The Tar Heels held a 12-point lead during the third quarter, but after the second media timeout, N.C. State seemed to be a brand new team. The Wolfpack made up the difference and then some pulling to the lead at the end of the quarter. From then on it was a close game, with UNC leading, but N.C. State staying right behing. With the equity in intensity from both teams, the game truly came down to the last few shots. 

N.C. State couldn’t match the Tar Heels’ percentage from deep, and ultimately fell due to UNC’s impressive shooting in big moments.

Why does it matter?

This was UNC’s second game in 10 days against a top-four team. After losing the first to No. 1 Louisville to start a three-game skid, the Tar Heels needed a win like this to balance the season. 

N.C. State had only lost once this season and one of the best teams in the nation. The Wolfpack had taken down the No. 1 ranked team in the country twice, and are firmly in contention for a national title. UNC’s middling season record made them an underdog coming into the game, but the Tar Heels beat the odds to defeat their in-state ACC foe. 

This was the Tar Heels' third time taking down a top-10 N.C. State team in as many years. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will take the court on Feb. 14 at 2:00 p.m. against the Pittsburgh Panthers on the road. 

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