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Monday October 25th

UNC women's basketball squanders lead, falls to Virginia Tech, 73-69

UNC's sophomore forward Malu Tshitenge (21) attempts a layup during a game against Virginia Tech on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. UNC fell to VT 69-73. Photo courtesy of Jon Fleming.
Buy Photos UNC's sophomore forward Malu Tshitenge (21) attempts a layup during a game against Virginia Tech on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. UNC fell to VT 69-73. Photo courtesy of Jon Fleming.

The North Carolina women’s basketball team (8-7, 3-7 ACC) took on the Virginia Tech Hokies (9-7, 4-7 ACC) away on Sunday at 4 p.m. The two teams battled it out for majority of the game, but ultimately the Hokies came away victorious, hitting 14 fourth-quarter free throws — two in the final seconds — to ice the game and claim a 73-69 win.

What happened?

Virginia Tech has won five of its last six matchups against the Tar Heels. In UNC’s last victory over the Hokies, during the 2018-19 season, then-sophomore center Janelle Bailey had 21 points and then-junior guard Stephanie Watts had 17. The teams have also already met this season, with the Hokies defeating the Tar Heels 66-54 in Carmichael Arena just over two weeks ago.

In this year's second rendition of the bout, the two teams kept the score close for the first and second quarters, trading the lead back and forth. Virginia Tech had spectacular control on offense and was having no trouble passing around and finding the open man. At the end of the first half, Virginia Tech led by two, 34-32. 

The Tar Heels came back strong in the third quarter, improving the quality of their offensive possessions. The now-senior Bailey received her third foul in the third quarter, though, taking a seat on the bench. The Tar Heels led by eight points halfway through the quarter, but the Hokies found heat while shooting 3-pointers and were able to catch back up by the end of the quarter. UNC had two turnovers due to traveling, setting them back a bit on offense. At the end of the third quarter, the Tar Heels led by three, 52-49.

Thanks to some early fouls from UNC, Virginia Tech was in the bonus a few minutes into the start of the fourth quarter. The game stayed close for the majority of the quarter. Virginia Tech took the lead late in the quarter, though, and Bailey fouled out with three minutes remaining. With a Virginia Tech steal on an inbound, the Hokies secured the win, 73-69.

Who stood out? 

FIrst-year guard Deja Kelly stood out offensively, doing a great job running the ball at point. The Tar Heels' top scorers were graduate transfer guard Petra Holesínská and Bailey. Holesínská led with 21 points and Bailey followed with 14; however, both of them fouled out late in the fourth quarter — the first time two UNC players have fouled out this season.

When was it decided?

With three seconds left, Holesínská hit a jumper to reduce the Hokies' lead to two. With both teams in the bonus, Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore secured the game for the Hokies, getting fouled on the ensuing inbounds and making both foul shots. When the Tar Heels were inbounding for their last offensive possession of the game, Amoore stole the inbound pass and stopped the Tar Heels from getting an attempt at winning the game.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels were 3-6 in the ACC conference going into the game, with the Hokies standing at 3-7. The Tar Heels now have another conference loss, putting their conference record at 3-7 and letting the Hokies leapfrog them in the standings.

UNC now sits at fourth-worst in the conference, which is actually second-worst, since both Duke and Virginia have cancelled the remainder of their seasons. What's worse, the Tar Heels are still yet to win a game on the road this season.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will take on Florida State University this Thursday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com


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