The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, April 24, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's basketball comes back from early deficit to beat VCU, 72-59 at Goombay Splash

Redshirt-junior Eva Hodgson prepares to shoot at the game against NC A&T on Nov. 9 at Carmichael Arena. UNC won 92-47.

The North Carolina women’s basketball team (5-0) notched its fifth win of the season with a 72-59 come-from-behind victory over Virginia Commonwealth (3-2) in Friday’s Goombay Splash match-up. 

What happened?

Early in the first quarter, the Tar Heels found themselves in a small hole, suffering their first deficit of the season after a VCU 3-pointer put them down 3-0. 

Throughout the opening period, both teams struggled to score as the game appeared to be tightly-contested and low-scoring. Both teams shot below 30 percent for the quarter. A strong quarter from sophomore guard Alyssa Ustby propelled UNC to a 14-9 lead after the first 10 minutes.  

The Tar Heels found their groove in the second quarter and expanded their lead to as much as 10 early in the period. UNC came out of the gate aggressive — driving to the basket and outhustling VCU to offensive boards, leading to nine second-chance points in that quarter alone. 

However, VCU caught fire from the three-point line towards the end of the quarter, narrowing the Tar Heels’ lead to as low as three before halftime. UNC continued to answer the Rams’ attack with the continuation of aggressive drives and knocking down open looks, including an and-1 layup by Ustby that helped keep the Tar Heels on top with a six-point lead going into the break. 

The game grew closer and more intense in the third quarter with both teams trading baskets. For the first four minutes, the match turned into a duel between sophomore guard Deja Kelly and Taya Robinson of VCU, who shot her team into a lead over the Tar Heels halfway into the period. 

There were numerous lead changes leading to the end of the third, until key baskets by redshirt junior guard Eva Hodgson, Ustby and sophomore guard Kennedy Todd-Williams helped the Tar Heels gain and maintain a three-point advantage going into the final stretch.

The fourth quarter was about defending for UNC. The Tar Heels turned up the intensity on the defensive end, drawing a few offensive fouls and limiting the easy, open looks for VCU — holding them to the lowest points scored in a quarter since the first. 

Continuing to score on the offensive end, the Tar Heels pulled away and took the 72-59 victory. 

Who stood out? 

Ustby led the team in scoring with 23 points, tying her career high, while also recording a double-double for the second game in a row with 10 rebounds. 

Hodgson also had a stellar game, coming off the bench with 14 points on 50 percent shooting. 

When was it decided?

A clear winner was not declared until the fourth quarter when UNC outscored VCU 22-14. The Tar Heels hunkered down on defense and created more opportunities in transition.

They also made sure to respond to their opponent’s baskets in the fourth, maintaining a comfortable lead to the finish line. 

Why does it matter?

After Friday’s win, the Tar Heels are 5-0 for the third straight season. 

This match-up was the closest one of the season as UNC had its first experiences with playing from behind this season. The Tar Heels handled the pressure placed on them well, staying poised and playing through early offensive struggles, which is a good sign for the tougher opponents down the road. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will have a quick turnaround and finish the Goombay Splash tournament Saturday,  Nov. 27 at noon against Washington. 

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

@DTHSports |