UNC first-year guard Paulina Paris recorded a career-high 16 points to lift No. 22 UNC women’s basketball (10-5, 1-3 ACC) to a 60-50 upset win over No. 4 Notre Dame (9-5, 0-3) on Sunday afternoon at Carmichael Arena.
Championed by junior small forward Alyssa Ustby in the post, UNC’s defense came out clicking on all cylinders on Sunday afternoon. The Tar Heels held the Fighting Irish to a season-low seven points in the first quarter, as Notre Dame shot an abysmal 17.6 percent from the field.
Despite its defensive pressure, North Carolina held a slim 6-point lead entering the second quarter of play. Midway through the second period, a 6-0 run led by the Fighting Irish’s Dara Mabrey and KK Bransford brought Notre Dame out to a 20-17 lead — the team’s first lead of the game — within just a minute of work.
From that point, UND sophomore point guard Olivia Miles added a layup in transition and two foul shots to help the Fighting Irish ease into halftime with a 25-22 lead.
The third quarter was critical for the Tar Heels, as UNC outscored Notre Dame 17-9 thanks to an increased tempo on offense and dominating the defensive boards.
Then, in the fourth quarter, first-year guard Paulina Paris took over. Her 11 points on a free throw, two 3-pointers and two layups helped UNC hold on to its lead. She was the only scorer for the Tar Heels over a period of almost six minutes in the fourth quarter.
After the dominant third quarter for the Tar Heels, Paris provided a boost for UNC that helped the team close out the game with a 60-50 final score.
Who stood out?
Paris is the clear standout for the Tar Heels — leading UNC in scoring with a season-high 16. She dominated the fourth quarter, recording 11 of the Tar Heels’ 21 points in that period. Aside from her, the rest of the team put on a balanced display.
Sophomore point guard Olivia Miles showed off her versatility in Sunday’s game, leading her team in scoring with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. She led all scorers at halftime with 11 points and had already accrued five rebounds and two assists at that point.
Graduate center Lauren Ebo dominated the boards — leading both teams in rebounds with a career-high 19. 11 of those rebounds came in the first half.
When was it decided?
UNC outscored Notre Dame 17-9 in the third period, which proved to be the deciding factor in the game.
During this stretch, UNC held Notre Dame scoreless for a period of nearly five and a half minutes. The Tar Heels’ ability to hold the Fighting Irish to one-and-done possessions was critical in its success, as North Carolina recorded eight defensive rebounds in the third quarter.
This dominant third quarter was followed by Paris' 11-point performance in the fourth quarter that sealed the game for the Tar Heels.
Why does it matter?
UNC’s win is a huge momentum shift for the team, as it breaks a 4-game losing skid and hands the team its first ranked win since beating then-No. 5 Iowa State, 73-64, on Nov. 27.
When do they play next?
UNC will hit the road again, taking on Virginia in Charlottesville on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 7:00 p.m.
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