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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's hoops falls to 0-2 in conference play with narrow loss at Virginia Tech

UNC junior wing Kennedy Todd-Williams (3) shoots a jump shot at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va. on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. UNC fell to Virginia Tech 68-65. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — In a back-and-forth contest, the No. 13 North Carolina women’s basketball team (9-4, 0-2 ACC) fell to the No. 7 Virginia Tech Hokies (12-2, 2-2 ACC), 68-65, Sunday night at Cassell Coliseum. 

What happened?

Both teams came out sluggish offensively, as a Cayla King wing 3-pointer for Virginia Tech was the lone scoring play in the first two and a half minutes of action.

North Carolina broke through at the 6:06 mark, as junior guard Kenndy Todd-Williams capped off a loose ball scramble with a midrange jumper. The Hokies would respond with their second make from distance, but a pair of buckets from junior guard Alyssa Ustby aided UNC to a 8-6 lead at the first media timeout.

Ustby would continue to thrive inside, but the Hokies’ ability to get to the foul line helped Virginia tech take a two-point lead after the first quarter.

Junior guard Deja Kelly caught fire to start the second period to help North Carolina retake the lead. The San Antonio native converted a driving floater and pull up 3-pointer to give the Tar Heels a two-point advantage.

While UNC’s lead guard was starting to find her stride, Georgia Amoore kick-started a personal 3-point barrage. The junior guard netted a trio of triples in the quarter — highlighted by an ankle-breaking, stepback connection from the corner — to help the Hokies take a 37-35 lead into the break.

After sitting out the entire second quarter due to foul trouble, Utsby returned to action following the break. The junior guard quickly made her presence felt, connecting on a turnaround jumper to knot the contest up at 37.

After UNC secured a six-point lead midway through the quarter, the Hokies’ sharpshooting guard caught fire once again. Amoore’s play behind the three-point arc helped Virginia Tech take a two point lead into the final quarter.

Paulina Paris started out the fourth quarter in command. The first-year accounted for the first seven points in the final period, helping North Carolina retake the lead with five minutes remaining in the game.

The tilt would remain tightly contested until the end, as senior forward D’asia Gregg’s 3-pointer gave the Hokies a one point lead with 1:45 remaining. Moments later, Junior forward Anya Poole would sink a free throw to tie the game.

On Virginia Tech’s final offensive possession, Amoore was fouled on a 3-pointer, and sank all three of the following free throws to seal the Hokie win.

Who stood out? 

In a game that featured stellar guard play from both teams, Kelly led the charge for the Tar Heels. The first-team All-ACC honoree had her way in the mid range and came up with a key steal on the defensive end,

On a day where Amoore was honored for recording the first triple-double in Virginia Tech history, the junior guard delivered a standout performance. The Hokies’ lead guard got whatever she wanted from distance and drilled the game winning free throws en route to a game-high 24 points.

When was it decided?

Both squads exchanged blows in the first half. The Hokies thrived from distance, behind the play of Amoore, to take a one possession lead into the break.

The second half mirrored the same play seen in the first 20 minutes of action, as neither squad held a lead greater than six points.

Why does it matter?

The defeat extends the Tar Heels’ current losing streak to three games. With the ACC currently boasting four ranked teams, North Carolina will have to overcome its recent struggles against some of the top teams in the country.

When do they play next?

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The Tar Heels continue conference play at Miami. Thursday’s road contest is set to begin at 6 p.m.  


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