On a night when junior guard Deja Kelly earned her 1,000th career point, North Carolina's offense was severely lacking.
In their 62-58 loss at Miami on Thursday, UNC scored a new season-low, fewer than the 63 they scored in a blowout loss at Indiana on Dec. 1.
Miami led the ACC in steals per game headed into the matchup, but the Hurricanes committed five more turnovers than the Tar Heels. A slow offensive start, though, had UNC trailing for much of the first half.
“They’re definitely a physical team, and what they like to do each game is to cause a lot of turnovers,” Kelly said. “But I think it was just us. We were really stagnant offensively at first.”
Head coach Courtney Banghart said Miami’s defensive prowess was not her team's focus because of UNC's ability to take care of the ball. Instead, she was more concerned with the Tar Heels' “lethargic” offense throughout the game.
At the end of the opening quarter, North Carolina had taken 13 shots and had only made five of them. These offensive woes continued into the second quarter, allowing Miami team to go on a scoring run and to secure their largest lead of the game at 25-15 halfway through the second quarter.
Despite the 3-point shooting of first-year guard Paulina Paris and redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson bringing UNC out to a slim lead, Miami guard Haley Cavinder's first three of the night in the final 30 seconds of the half sent Miami into the break with another lead.
From that point forward, North Carolina's shooting struggles continued.
“Every possession is so hard,” Banghart said. “We’ve been unable to create any transition action with pace. We’re having a tough time making everybody’s shots and life a little easier.”
The Tar Heels' offensive struggle was reflected in the numbers. UNC shot just 28.1 percent from the field during the second half and only made two 3-pointers.
Despite missing shots, the game remained tightly contested until the last minute of play, when it was decided by three missed shot attempts. The first was a missed free throw by junior small forward Alyssa Ustby to tie at the 49-second mark, followed by two missed 3-pointers by Kelly.
Junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams said the team will have to bring toughness to the next couple of games to break the current four-game losing streak.
“The little (possessions) matter,” she said.
Kelly added that the team should invoke the level of grit and competitiveness she witnessed last year.
“It takes a lot more diving on the floor, a lot more rebounds, a lot more active hands and things like that to win these games,” she said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.