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Thursday January 20th

UNC women's basketball improves to 3-0 after defeating Appalachian State 89-44

UNC graduate guard Carlie Littlefield (2) attempts to shoot the ball during the game against Appalachian State at Carmichael Arena on Nov. 17.
Buy Photos UNC graduate guard Carlie Littlefield (2) attempts to shoot the ball during the game against Appalachian State at Carmichael Arena on Nov. 17.

Continuing its dominant ways from wins against North Carolina A&T and Charlotte, the UNC women’s basketball team (3-0, 0-0) steamrolled Appalachian State (2-2, 0-0) 89-44 to win its third straight game against in-state opponents by at least 45 points.

What happened?

North Carolina asserted its dominance early, opening on an 8-0 run and again forcing its opponent to struggle shooting the ball. Appalachian State shot less than seven percent from the field in the first quarter and committed eight turnovers, which allowed the Tar Heels – who shot 42 percent – to close the quarter on a 14-2 run and lead 22-4 going into the second. 

Sophomore Alyssa Ustby controlled the game on both ends of the floor during the first 10 minutes, recording six points, three rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. She orchestrated UNC’s offensive attack by calmly handling the ball at the elbow and either shooting a 15-footer or driving into the paint to set up her teammates on the low block.

The second quarter saw more UNC dominance, as the Tar Heels held the Mountaineers to one made field goal in the entire period. App State managed to score just one jump shot and one free throw, and UNC forced eight more turnovers that led to a total of 14 points off turnovers in the first half. 

North Carolina led 40-7 at the break, largely due to the Tar Heels’ active hands and physicality defensively. App State shot two for 28 – seven percent – in the first 20 minutes and turned the ball over 16 times. UNC controlled the paint with a 22-4 scoring advantage inside, highlighted by sophomore forward Anya Poole’s 10 points on 5-6 shooting. Sophomore guard Deja Kelly started the second half with an and-one three pointer, then a three-pointer from Littlefield and another Kelly triple showed that UNC didn’t come out of the locker room sleepy. Even though the Mountaineers found some offense in the third quarter, the Tar Heels still outscored App State 26-19 in the period and held a 66-26 lead going into the fourth.

The visitors made the final quarter the most competitive one by far, but their chances of winning had evaporated long before. UNC outscored App State 23-18 in the quarter and won by 45 points.

Who stood out?

Kelly led the team in scoring with 18 points, followed by Poole’s 16. First-years Destiny Adams and Morasha Wiggins each finished with 10. Littlefield and sophomore guard Kennedy Todd-Williams each recorded over five assists to help facilitate the Tar Heel offense, and Todd-Williams also led the team in rebounds after pulling down 12.

When was it decided?

North Carolina eliminated all hope of a Mountaineer upset from the jump. A 22-4 first quarter lead and 40-7 halftime advantage showed how quickly the Tar Heels took control against their in-state foe, and they never took their foot off App State’s throat and took home an 89-44 victory.

Why does it matter?

UNC once again took control early against an inferior opponent, and each player on head coach Courtney Banghart’s team got at least eight minutes of playing time in the blowout. The Tar Heels already lost two players for the season, so getting everyone minutes early in the season lets them develop confidence as the team moves towards its Thanksgiving tournament in the Bahamas and later into conference play.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels head to Fort Worth, Texas on Sunday to take on the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs in the Maggie Dixon Classic. Tip-off is at 4:30 p.m.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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