The No. 7 North Carolina women’s basketball team (9-1) defeated South Carolina Upstate (3-7), 89-47, at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill on Friday night.
The Tar Heels started out on a strong 7-0 run with two layups by junior Alyssa Ustby and a 3-point jumper by redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson. After a timeout called by SC Upstate’s new head coach Jason Williams, the Spartans made offensive adjustments to put points on the board.
However, those adjustments were not enough to keep up with the Tar Heels, who shot 50 percent to open the game. Following the dominant opening run, back-to-back jumpers from junior guard Deja Kelly separated the score, 15-8. Kelly closed the first quarter with a last second jumper, bringing her total to eight points to lead the team offensively.
The first three minutes of the second half was a scoreless scramble for the ball. After that stretch, the Tar Heels went on an 11-0 run led by a jumper and a layup from Ustby, a 3-point jumper from junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams, and layups from junior forward Anya Poole and first-year guard Paulina Paris.
Hodgson showed her defensive talents with back-to-back steals, adding four more points to the score for the Tar Heels. Slow transitions for the Spartans resulted in a layup for junior forward Alexandra Zelaya, as the Tar Heels closed out the half, 45-22.
The Tar Heels continued to find success on both sides of the ball in the third quarter of the game. Hodgson joined Kelly in double-figures as North Carolina pulled away, increasing their lead to 29 with about seven minutes left. The Spartans made an effort to make a dent, answering the call every time the Tar Heels scored. Paris played her breakout game, heating up late in the fourth quarter to join Kelly and Hodgson in double-figures for a career-high 15 points.
Despite a dominant showing over the Spartans, the veteran Tar Heel team committed just as many turnovers as the Spartans, showing they still have improvements to make before heading into conference play.
Who stood out?
Kelly continued to shine for North Carolina, leading the team with 20 points while shooting 70 percent from the field.
However, it was Hodgson’s hustle on both sides of the ball that helped extend the Tar Heels’ lead. The William and Mary transfer reached double-digits in the second quarter and shot 7-11 inside the paint. Her four steals led the team defensively on North Carolina’s route to victory.
When was it decided?
The game was decided about halfway through the first quarter, when the Tar Heels began to pull away. Despite sloppy turnovers in the second half, North Carolina put on a dominant showing over the Spartans.
Why does it matter?
With only one loss to the No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers, the Tar Heels continue to climb the rankings. This win over the Spartans could give North Carolina the confidence it needs to finish out this non-conference stretch of the season.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Charlotte this Tuesday to take on Michigan at 7 p.m. in the Jumpman Invitational.
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