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Thursday January 20th

UNC women's basketball continues perfect start to season with 82-76 win over Minnesota

Sophomore guard Deja Kelly (25) celebrates at the game against App State on Nov. 17 at Carmichael Arena. UNC won 89-44 and Kelly finished the game with 18 points.
Buy Photos Sophomore guard Deja Kelly (25) celebrates at the game against App State on Nov. 17 at Carmichael Arena. UNC won 89-44 and Kelly finished the game with 18 points.

The North Carolina women’s basketball team (7-0) continued its perfect start to the season with a 82-76 victory over Minnesota (6-4) at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. The Tar Heels’ win in the Big 10/ACC Challenge brings their record to 7-0 on the season. 

What happened?

After an evenly-matched first quarter that ended 17-17, UNC came out flying in the second quarter. It outscored the Golden Gophers 22-12 to earn a 39-29 lead heading into halftime. North Carolina’s run was also powered by a strong defensive performance in the second quarter. After a first quarter that saw Minnesota shoot 3-for-9 on 3-point attempts and 7-for-18 on field goals, the Golden Gophers shot 0-for-10 on 3-point attempts and just 21 percent from the field in the second quarter. 

Minnesota attempted to fight its way back into the game after halftime, and eventually took the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter. With 38 seconds remaining in the third, the Golden Gophers had made it 55-54. But the Tar Heels were able to tie the game off a free throw. 

Just when it looked to be heading into the fourth quarter a tie game, sophomore guard Deja Kelly made a half-court shot that took the wind out of the Golden Gophers sails and gave the Tar Heels back the lead — a lead they reinforced in the fourth quarter, out-scoring Minnesota 24-21 in the final frame to seal the game. 

Who stood out? 

Six UNC players put up double figures in scoring. Sophomore guard Alyssa Ustby recorded a double-double, leading the Tar Heels in scoring with 19 points while also recording 11 rebounds. 

Kelly finished second in scoring with 15, while graduate transfer guard Carlie Littlefield had 14, and sophomore forward Anya Poole had 12. Redshirt junior guard Eva Hodgson and sophomore guard Kennedy Todd-Williams each had 11. Poole also had a career-high 16 rebounds.  

When was it decided?

The Golden Gophers were able to make it a one-point game 30 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels responded with a 9-0 run to take back their 10-point lead. Minnesota gave one final push and were able to cut the deficit to two points with 4:43 left on the clock, but the Tar Heels went on another run, and would hold at least a four-point lead for the rest of the game. 

Why does it matter?

The win continues North Carolina’s perfect start to the season, bringing their record to 7-0. The matchup against Minnesota was also UNC’s fourth game in a row on the road, with the last two games played in the Bahamas at the Goombay Splash. 

The victory over the Gophers also means the Tar Heels now lead the all-time series between the teams 5-1. Minnesota’s only win over North Carolina came during the teams’ first meeting in 1979.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to Chapel Hill on Sunday, Dec. 5 for a matchup against James Madison, with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m.  

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com 

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