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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 23 UNC women's basketball falls in road matchup to Virginia Tech

Sophomore guard Deja Kelly shoots a free throw at the women's basketball game against Pittsburgh on Feb. 10, 2021 at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill. UNC won 64-54.

The No. 23 North Carolina women’s basketball team (19-5, 9-5 ACC) dropped a road matchup on Sunday against Virginia Tech (19-6, 11-3 ACC), falling by a score of 66-61. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels started off the game on the right foot, racking up a 12-point lead by the end of the first quarter, for a 21-9 advantage heading into the second. Nine of UNC’s 21 points in the first quarter came from sophomore guard Deja Kelly. 

The Hokies responded in the second quarter by going on a 17-5 run to tie the game at 26-26 with just under two minutes remaining. Virginia Tech then made a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to earn a five-point lead, its first lead since early in the game. The Tar Heels were able to make a layup to cut the deficit, but the Hokies still went into half time with a three-point advantage. 

The Tar Heels came out after half time with a quick start, going on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 33-33. The Hokies responded with a free throw, but UNC put two points on the board after a jumper by sophomore Alyssa Ustby to take a 35-34 lead. 

But Virginia Tech quickly regained its lead, in part by shooting 3-for-7 on 3-pointers, continuing its momentum from the second quarter which saw the team shot 4-for-5 from deep. The Hokies would finish the quarter with a nine-point lead, and the lead UNC earned early in the quarter would be the last they would have for the rest of the game. 

Although UNC outcored Virginia Tech 18-14 in the final quarter, it wasn’t enough to close the gap, and the game finished 66-61 in favor of the Hokies. 

Who stood out? 

Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore and UNC’s Kelly led the game in scoring, with 17 points each. Three other Tar Heels reached double scoring figures: Ustby, graduate transfer Carlie Littlefield and redshirt junior Eva Hodgson. Ustby also had a double-double, after recording 12 rebounds. 

When was it decided?

 The game wasn’t truly decided until the final whistle blew, as UNC tried to stage a late comeback in the final quarter. The Tar Heels cut the Hokies’ 12-point lead they had at the beginning of the fourth quarter to five points with just over a minute remaining but were unable to complete the comeback.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels had a lot of momentum coming into the matchup. They were on a three-game win streak, with all three wins picked up against ACC opponents. Additionally, in the last two meetings between the teams, UNC won both games. The most recent being a 71-46 win over the Hokies on Jan. 9 in Chapel Hill. 

With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Tar Heels will look to use the lessons they learned from this game as they head into the ACC Tournament next month.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels welcome Louisville to Chapel Hill on Thursday for their second to last home game of the season, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.

@dthsports |

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