The No. 12 UNC women’s basketball team (1-0) picked up its first win of the season in its season-opener against the Jackson State Tigers (0-1), with a score of 91-59.
UNC started off its evening strong with a pull-up jumper from junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams. The Tar Heels picked up their second field goal of the game off a pass from junior small forward Alyssa Ustby to junior forward Anya Poole.
The Tigers kept it close early, capitalizing off of sloppy mistakes from the Tar Heels and picking up four offensive rebounds. First-year guard Paulina Paris picked up her first field goal as a Tar Heel with under one minute to go in the first quarter, capitalizing off of a missed Tiger three-point attempt. UNC began to establish its game and finished the quarter with a 22-11 lead.
Junior guard Deja Kelly started off the Tar Heels’ scoring in the second quarter. Kelly drew a foul on a three-point field goal attempt, and knocked down two out of the three free throws to extend the Tar Heels’ lead to 13. After this point, it seemed everything was going in the Tar Heels’ favor.
With a little over seven minutes to go in the second quarter, the Tar Heels kicked off a 21-5 scoring run. UNC went into the locker room with a 33-point lead. The Tar Heels’ defense forced 11 turnovers and picked up nine steals in the first half.
The second half started off on a similar foot as Todd-Williams knocked down a three-point field goal off a fast break with an assist from Ustby. Todd-Williams picked up another three-pointer 30-seconds later off another fast break and another pass from Ustby. The Tar Heels had a dominating third quarter, ending the penultimate period with a 35-point lead.
The fourth quarter started with a three-point field goal from Paris, expanding the lead to 38. The Tigers found themselves a boost of momentum, but the Tar Heels’ dominating performance led to a 32-point victory to round out their first game of the season.
Who stood out?
Todd-Williams had a team-high 20 points as well as nine rebounds. She also tallied three of the Tar Heels’ seven three-point field goals. This is her all-time high scoring performance, trumping her previous record of 19.
Ustby had a great night as well, earning herself a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes of play. She also recorded three blocks and five assists on the evening.
Redshirt senior Eva Hodgson also had an exceptional night, picking up 13 points and capitalizing on five of six field goal attempts. Hodgson also accounted for five assists.
When was it decided?
After a relatively contested first quarter, the Tar Heels pulled away early in the second. With consistent defensive pressure and a brutal offensive showing, it was hard for the Tigers to crawl back into the game. UNC’s offensive rebounding played a huge role in its success on the offensive side. The Tar Heels tallied nine offensive rebounds and picked up 11 second chance points. This, combined with a big defensive showing, helped push the Tar Heels towards the dominant win.
Why does it matter?
As the No. 12 team in the country, the Tar Heels have high expectations for this season. This season-opening win sets the tone for North Carolina and demonstrates the skill that this team has. The Tar Heels moved to 1-0 on the season and picked up the momentum to carry them through their remaining non-conference schedule.
Furthermore, this was a great showing for the Tar Heels’ defense. The team picked up seven blocks and 16 steals, leading to 22 points off turnovers. The defensive performance played a huge role in UNC’s momentum throughout the game.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will stay in Chapel Hill to face TCU on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m inside Carmichael Arena.
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