Despite offensive shortcomings in the second and third quarter, No. 15 UNC women’s basketball picked up its seventh-consecutive ACC victory with 69-58 a win over Clemson.
North Carolina showed up early offensively, prevailing against the Clemson defense to put up the first eight points on the fast break. Their defensive struggles forced the Tigers to call their first timeout two and a half minutes into the game.
After missing their first two field goals, the Tar Heels made five in a row, aided by back-to-back successful three-pointers by junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams. The Clemson offense maintained control of the ball for a while but struggled to finish out shots.
A scoring drought of 2:21 was ended by the first collegiate points by UNC redshirt freshman guard Kayla McPherson. McPherson put up six points in the first quarter, which ended with a 20-9 North Carolina lead.
Both teams demonstrated defensive strength in the beginning of the second quarter. The first point in the quarter didn’t come until two and a half minutes in and was a result of a Clemson free-throw. Neither team could find an offensive rhythm until the end of the quarter, and the Tar Heels entered halftime up 36-17, despite shooting only 5-13 in field goals in the second quarter.
UNC put up the first points after halftime with a three-pointer by first-year guard Paulina Paris. Paris put up the next two points for the Tar Heels as well before the Tigers went on a 17-0 run. Regardless, North Carolina held onto their lead to enter the final quarter up 43-39.
Paris opened the fourth quarter with yet another three-pointer to provide new life to the UNC offense. North Carolina was able to widen its lead to 15 to provide a sense of security. Clemson held on in the final minutes, but the Tar Heels picked up a seventh-straight win with a final score of 69-58.
Who stood out?
Todd-Williams had ten points in the first quarter alone, including eight consecutive points for the Tar Heels that maintained their healthy lead as the Clemson offense began to heat up. Although she only put up five points after this, Todd-Williams’ offensive performance was essential to North Carolina’s success early in this game.
Paris had a season-high 22 points with six three-pointers as the top point contributor for UNC to keep her team in the game as it got close. McPherson demonstrated that she can be an asset to this North Carolina team in her first appearance with eight points.
When was it decided?
UNC was off to a dominant start, but the team’s failure to put up successful field goals in the majority of the second quarter kept Clemson in this game. The Tigers took over in the third quarter to provide a close game, but when the Tar Heels’ offense returned to its usual performance early in the last quarter, it was evident that despite their shortcomings, North Carolina would win this game.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels entered this game on a six-game win streak against ACC opoonents. This streak comes after the team opened conference play with three straight losses. Although UNC’s win over Clemson wasn’t a pretty one, a seventh-straight win demonstrates the Tar Heels’ dominance in conference play of late.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will host Virginia on Thursday with hopes of securing an eighth-consecutive win.
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