The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

No. 12 UNC women's basketball deploys full-court trap in win over TCU

<p>UNC junior guard Alyssa Ustby (1) shoots a jump shot during the game against TCU on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Carmichael Arena. UNC beat TCU 75-48.</p>
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UNC junior guard Alyssa Ustby (1) shoots a jump shot during the game against TCU on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Carmichael Arena. UNC beat TCU 75-48.

Leading by 27 with under a minute remaining in the third quarter, North Carolina women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart urged her players to set up a full-court trap.

For Banghart, it wasn’t to give another black eye to a Texas Christian University team UNC would go on to beat 75-48. The Tar Heels just like their extended defense, but injuries to multiple players limited the amount of practice reps to work on it throughout scrimmages.

“Every minute these guys can get together and expand our defensive package, we're gonna take advantage,” Banghart said. 

TCU’s 2-3 zone disrupted UNC’s usual half-court offensive sets in the first half. The Tar Heels shot 5-16 in the first quarter and had already turned the ball over nine times by the seven-minute mark in the second quarter.

A top-25 defense in the NCAA Division I last season, UNC called on its defensive organization to take control of the game after a sputtering start on offense.

Thirteen of UNC’s 15 fast break points and eight of its 10 steals came in the second and third quarters. TCU, meanwhile, shot 3-15 from the field in the second quarter and 2-16 in the third quarter. 

"If a teammate gets driven [past], I’m ready to help,” junior small forward Alyssa Ustby said. “Our team just moves really well together. We stay connected defensively so we can make the toughest shot for the opponent.”

UNC’s increased defensive pressure turned a two-point lead for TCU at the end of the first quarter into a 27-point lead for the Tar Heels by the end of the third quarter.

“Our defense drives our offense,” Ustby said. “Once we get going and get some stops, then offense just comes easy.”

Banghart also credited the mid-game takeover to her players adjusting to the zone defense and switching from a slow, surgical approach to a fast, aggressive one. One of the primary keys to the aggression proved to be sophomore forward Destiny Adams, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes.

“It's awesome how competitive and aggressive she is,” junior point guard Deja Kelly said. “I think that's something we need, and she does exactly what we need her to do.”

Six offensive rebounds in a short period is a feat befitting of someone Kelly praises for being all over the place. Scavenging for loose balls, running the floor in transition, plugging holes as a help defender — Adams did it all.

For Kelly, nursing a tweak to her ankle, Adams demonstrates that she and her fellow starters can look to the bench to keep energy levels high.

“I think it's a breath of fresh air, because you don't have to play as many minutes, and we can really look at our bench and see that we have help,” Kelly said.

Like TCU, opponents will look to sucker punch UNC early. Being able to rely upon something, be it defense or depth, breeds a confidence that will be the key to surviving surprises later in the season.

For Kelly, to win Saturday’s game and similar bouts requires teammates to build up each other’s confidence.

“We're just gonna keep doing that for each other,” Kelly said. “The coaches are doing that for us. Just a lot of encouragement going on and everyone trying to find their role and play that role really well.”  


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