Despite a second-half comeback, the No. 22 North Carolina women’s basketball team (9-5, 0-3 ACC) fell to the Miami Hurricanes (9-6, 2-2 ACC) 62-58 on Thursday.
After both teams struggled to finish at the basket in their first possessions, Miami’s sophomore guard Ja’Leah Williams completed the first scoring play of the quarter with a quick lay-up.
Junior guard Alyssa Utsby quickly responded, knocking down UNC’s first basket with a 3-pointer in the following play. This was the only UNC lead for the remainder of the quarter.
Entering the second quarter, North Carolina continued to struggle offensively, despite the Hurricanes accumulating 11 turnovers. Back-to-back three’s from senior guard Hanna Cavinder sent the Miami team on an 8-0 scoring run and gave the team a ten point lead – the largest lead of the half.
The North Carolina offense found its rhythm starting at the three minute mark, as freshman guard Paulina Paris and redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers and allowed UNC to finally take a 26-25 lead.
For the remainder of the half, both teams fought for key offensive rebounds that allowed for second-chance scoring and temporary leads. With 43 seconds remaining, junior forward Alexandra Zelaya secured a rebound off a missed jumper by Utsby, throwing it out to junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams at the wing for another three.
However, in a half defined by 3-point shooting, a final 3-pointer by senior guard Haley Cavinder at the 17 second mark sent the Hurricanes into the locker room with a 32-30 lead.
The Canes continued to out-rebound and out-shoot UNC. By the two-minute mark, the North Carolina offense missed 12 straight shots. A late foul committed by Miami’s senior forward Lola Pendande on a final shot attempt of the quarter sent junior guard Deja Kelly to the line. Making two of the three foul shots, the teams finished out the quarter with a seven-point lead in Miami’s favor.
The Hurricanes stayed in control for the beginning of the final quarter. Sophomore guard Jasmyne Roberts' scoring run increased Miami’s lead, but the Tar Heel offense led by Kelly kept the North Carolina team alive. An offensive rebound by Todd-Williams decreased that deficit to a one possession game at the 3:32 mark.
The UNC comeback continued with the Canes committing back-to-back fouls. Fouled off an offensive rebound, Utsby missed her second free throw to tie the game. The Tar Heels had another attempt to tie off a 3-point attempt by Kelly, but the ball fell short of connecting with the net. Miami’s lead increased to 62-58 after a UNC foul, and with the team’s final possession, Kelly’s final shot hit off the rim.
Who stood out?
As UNC’s leading scorer for the night, Kelly scored 19 points and played all 40 minutes. The junior also drew fouls at key moments to keep the team’s chances alive.
The Cavinder sisters had a great shooting night – especially from three – to aid the Miami team in its victory. Haley Cavinder was the Canes’ leading scorer with 16 points and going four for four at the line.
When was it decided?
After Kelly missed a 3-point attempt to tie the game, the Tar Heels were forced to foul Miami, increasing UNC’s deficit to four points with 2.1 seconds remaining.
Why does it matter?
The loss extends North Carolina’s losing streak to four games. The Tar Heels now have a 0-3 record in conference play.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will host No. 4 Notre Dame on Sunday at 4 p.m.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.