In 2015, the North Carolina women’s basketball team made it to the Sweet 16.
And though they ultimately lost to South Carolina, 67-65 in that game, the Tar Heels would not see that level of success in the NCAA Tournament again for seven years.
Now, after many seasons of mediocrity and a change in head coach, North Carolina is beginning to reestablish itself as a prominent program in women’s basketball.
In her third year with the Tar Heels, head coach Courtney Banghart believed her program would succeed once the team clicked.
After missing the tournament in her first year and seeing a first round exit in her second, the Tar Heel squad made the Sweet 16 this season.
“We just had to pick the right pieces," Banghart said. "We were committed to that both with staffing, with players, with these grad transfers and a combination of the talent we had brought in got so much better. They were ready for the moment.”
That moment — a fierce matchup against powerhouse No. 1 seed South Carolina — featured a North Carolina loss that was expected, yet heartbreaking.
It didn't always seem like the Tar Heels would reach this stage though. In the team's first game against a ranked opponent, the No. 5 N.C. State Wolfpack, the team was blown out, 72-45.
After defeating the No. 21 Duke Blue Devils on the road in late January, North Carolina continued showing signs of inconsistency, exemplified by a loss to an unranked Virginia Tech team.