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Sunday February 5th

Hodgson's late-game heroics carry UNC women's basketball to win over No. 18 Oregon

UNC redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson (10) motions to a teammate during the women's basketball game against Jackson State in Carmichael Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. UNC beat Jackson State 91-51.
Buy Photos UNC redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson (10) motions to a teammate during the women's basketball game against Jackson State in Carmichael Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022.

Fourteen points.

That's the number redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson put up in the fourth quarter of the UNC women's basketball team's 85-79 win over No. 18 Oregon Thursday in the Phil Knight Invitational.

After inefficient pick-and-roll play plagued the Tar Heels for most of the first half, head coach Courtney Banghart instilled a sense of fire in her team at the break. 

Hodgson took it personally and put up 17 points in the second half, with 14 of those coming in the final period of play. The redshirt senior made up nearly half of UNC's offense in the final quarter, propelling the Tar Heels to their first ranked win of the year.

As the clock was ticking down, and UNC and Oregon remained neck and neck, Hodgson addressed her teammates.

“This is it — either we’re going to go on a run and win this game or we could just wait and we could lose,” Hodgson said.

Although Hodgson went into the locker room with four points, that would not last. Even after a three-point performance in the third quarter, she kept in mind a piece of advice that fueled her fourth-quarter performance.

“My coach and my teammates have been telling me all year just to shoot the ball and let it fly,” Hodgson said. 

Down by one with just over five minutes remaining, junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams grabbed a defensive rebound and began pushing the pace. She found Hodgson open right in front of the UNC bench and lobbed the ball forward, who fired from behind the arc and drained the shot.

The make was her fifth 3-pointer of the night, but she was fouled in the process. After sinking her free throw shot, she put the Tar Heels ahead by three points and gave the team a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

“I knew towards the end of the game that we needed something that would change the stride, pace, and energy of the game,” Hodgson said. “I caught it and I didn’t even think twice about it and just let it fly. The fact that it was an and-one made it a lot sweeter.”

Hodgson had an explosive fourth quarter, totaling 14 points and one assist. She went 3-for-3 from behind the arc in the final quarter, which put the Tar Heels in a prime position to close out the game.

Thursday marked Hodgson’s highest-scoring game of the season as well as her best three-point shooting game of the young campaign. She now leads the team in three-pointers and assists through its first five games.

Aside from what the stats show, Hodgson has proven herself to be a consistent leader for UNC. Clutch 3-pointers aren't rare for Hodgson (cue her buzzer-beater against Virginia Tech in the 2022 ACC Tournament), but rather, this performance from the former "sixth starter" shows that she's a crucial option for Banghart down the stretch.

“We have a lot of options,” Banghart said. “I appreciate that they all stay ready because we don’t know when we will need one versus the other.”

Hodgson's read of the court and scoring prowess have propelled the Tar Heels to an undefeated start this season. With numerous top-ranked matchups left to tackle before conference play begins, Hodgson will have to continue to be productive for the team to continue its hot start.

@j_kidd03

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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