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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 13 UNC women's basketball opens ACC slate with 78-71 loss to unranked FSU

20221220_Le_UNCWBB
UNC senior guard, Eva Hodgson (10), looks for an opening during the game against Michigan at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday Dec. 20, 2022. UNC fell to Michigan 76-68.

No. 13 UNC women’s basketball began conference play with a 71-78 ACC loss to Florida State, recording a second-straight loss.

What happened?

Florida State scored first in Thursday night’s matchup with a three-pointer, but UNC recovered quickly with a jumper by junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams. From there, the Tar Heels struggled to finish out shots, going 3-10 in their first ten. A scoring drought of over two minutes for the Seminoles and increased unity by North Carolina resulted in a tied 22-22 score after the first quarter.

An early second quarter layup by the Tar Heels gave them a lead that they maintained for the remainder of the first half. FSU’s defense didn’t make this an easy feat, with Jazmine Massengill taking the ball from UNC guard Alyssa Ustby in two straight possessions and the Seminoles scoring six points in the span of a minute. Regardless of this, UNC had a stellar offensive performance in the second quarter with eight points by Ustby and nine by guard Deja Kelly, highlighted by a 4-point play. North Carolina entered halftime with a 6-point lead.

Things became physical at the tense start of the second half with three personal fouls in the span of three seconds. After six minutes of the quarter, the foul count was up to eight. The game returned to its closely-matched back-and-forth nature in the third quarter and was tied by the time half of the quarter had expired. Florida State reclaimed the lead for the first time since the first quarter and was up by four heading into the fourth.

The Seminoles maintained their momentum in the final quarter. Despite being deferred by a technical foul, they remained ahead. The Tar Heels got within one point several times, but were unable to get back on top, resulting in a 71-78 loss.

Who stood out? 

Redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson helped keep the Tar Heels afloat in the first quarter, during which she led the team in assists and tied in leading in both points and rebounds. Hodgson continued to perform admirably throughout the matchup, but Ustby and Kelly took over to help the team stay competitive until the game’s final moments. Kelly was the team’s top-scorer with 20 points and Ustby put up her sixth double-double of the season.

When was it decided?

After a slow start, North Carolina’s dominant performance in the second quarter made it appear as though they might run away with this game. However, the third quarter quickly proved that this wasn’t the case. UNC failed to recreate their offensive success from the second quarter, struggling particularly with their 3-point field goal percentage, which was a mere 18%, and second-chance points, which they had only five of compared to FSU’s 37. The Tar Heels tried to battle it out, but their subpar offense in the second half caught up with them.

Why does it matter?

Thursday night’s game served as UNC’s ACC opener. The Tar Heels were the last team in the conference to kick off conference play and were coming off of an eight-point loss to Michigan that dropped them from No. 6 to No. 13 in the rankings. The holiday break allowed them to reflect on this loss for over a week before their next matchup against the Seminoles, an essential win to prove their ACC dominance.

North Carolina ended a Florida State winning-streak last season with a win after six straight Seminoles wins in the series. FSU began a new win streak on Thursday and handed UNC its second-straight loss. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will kick off the new year with a New Year’s Day matchup at Virginia Tech.

@lindseyashe_

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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