On Sunday, the No. 22 North Carolina women’s basketball team secured its first conference win and its second win over a top-five team in the country — defeating No. 4 Notre Dame, 60-50.
After falling short in consecutive close games against then-No. 7 Virginia Tech and Miami, the Tar Heels’ defensive performance helped them change the narrative and snap their four-game losing streak.
“They've leaned into losing some close games late but not losing faith,” head coach Courtney Banghart said.
Coming into the matchup, Notre Dame was ranked ninth nationally in scoring and fifth in shooting percentage. However, this offense was muted by UNC’s disruptive defense.
North Carolina continued its shooting struggles on Sunday — shooting under 37 percent from the field — and leaned on its defensive prowess instead. The Tar Heels held the Fighting Irish to a 28 percent clip, including a 2 for 22 success rate from behind the arc.
The Tar Heels had seven blocks – tied for the second-most of the season, just short of their 10 blocks against Iowa State. Junior forward Alyssa Ustby and sophomore forward Destiny Adams had three blocks apiece, with Ustby adding three steals to contribute to a total of 10 for the team.
“I told them at halftime, I said, ‘It starts with the defense and is going to end with the offense,’” Banghart said. “And defensively, I thought we gave ourselves a chance.”
UNC’s defense was hot from the start, holding Notre Dame to just seven points: a season-low scoring total for a quarter.
Banghart described the team’s matchup zone as an “amoeba,” as it actively shifted in response to what the offense presented.