There’s nothing like March that brings out the best of college basketball.
Even in defeat, the UNC women’s basketball team’s 87-80 overtime loss to Virginia Tech on Friday brought out all the madness of the season for a team with almost no tournament experience.
The third-round ACC Tournament matchup in Greensboro was set to be close from the start, with UNC being the fourth seed and Virginia Tech the fifth. The two programs had split the regular-season series at one game apiece. The Tar Heels were backed by two elite players — sophomores Deja Kelly and Alyssa Ustby. The Hokies boasted ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley, an imposing center with a dangerous touch around the rim.
However, in true tourney fashion, none of those players hit the most important shots for their respective teams at the end of regulation.
“In March, everyone brings their best,” Kelly said. “The physicality, the aggressiveness, the intensity of the game was expected.”
Kitley left the game early with a shoulder injury and wouldn’t return. Ustby started off hot, but was hampered late by foul trouble. Instead, it was their teammates who stepped up in the big moments.
In March, expect the unexpected. Look for new heroes to be made.
After playing from behind all game, Virginia Tech took its first lead, 46-45, with 1:18 left in the third quarter. The final period was a relentless exchange of buckets, the lead changing hands multiple times over ten minutes.
With the clocking quickly running out in the fourth, veteran Hokie guard Aisha Sheppard was fouled on a 3-point attempt and tied the game up at 66 points. Thirty-six seconds remained in the game.