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Friday February 3rd

No. 17 UNC women's basketball wins fourth straight game in 61-56 triumph over No. 13 Duke

UNC junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams (3) drives to the basket during the women’s basketball game against Duke on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, at Carmichael Arena. UNC beat Duke 61-56.
Buy Photos UNC junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams (3) drives to the basket during the women’s basketball game against Duke on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, at Carmichael Arena. UNC beat Duke 61-56.

The No.17 North Carolina women’s basketball team (13-5, 4-3 ACC) defeated No. 13 Duke (16-2, 6-1 ACC) 61-56 on Thursday night at Carmichael Arena.

What happened?

The Tar Heels controlled the game early and stayed in that position for the entire first quarter, scoring 10 points before Duke could get on the board nearly eight minutes into the game. UNC’s defense helped facilitate this as the Blue Devils missed eight shots and turned the ball over six times. 

However, North Carolina wasn’t strong offensively as the team went 3-for-10 from the field during this period. A scoring drought of over three minutes looked to carry over to the second quarter until junior guard Deja Kelly nailed a jumper with seven seconds left, bringing their lead to 12-5 at the end of the first quarter.

The shooting struggles continued into the second quarter for North Carolina. After junior forward Alyssa Ustby made a layup with 8:17 left in the quarter to bring the lead to 16-9, UNC went scoreless for over five minutes. During this time, Duke tied the game with sophomore guard Shayeann Day-Wilson scoring five straight points and causing UNC to turn the ball over five different times. After this, the Tar Heels found the bottom of the basket as Kelly scored five straight points, helping to put the score at 21 apiece going into halftime.

After the break, both teams came at each other with scoring bursts. Ustby scored four quick points to break the tie. Then, Duke responded, scoring seven consecutive points to take a three-point lead, before North Carolina scored six straight to take a three-point lead of their own. 

Duke made a three-pointer with 4:44 left in the third quarter to tie the game up at 31, but the rest of the quarter, the Blue Devils missed all eight of their shot attempts and turned the ball over three times. The Tar Heels capitalized on their shooting misfortunes, going on a 9-0 run, with five of those coming from the Duke turnovers, making the lead 40-31 going into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter was a foul-laden one for North Carolina, picking up 10 teams fouls in under nine minutes, which helped keep Duke in the game. Although the Blue Devils made just six of their 10 free throws, they were able to keep within striking distance of the Tar Heels. Clutch shots from Kelly, who scored nine points on 3-for-3 shooting, and an 80 percent clip from the line helped fend off the Blue Devils and seal the game.

Who stood out? 

Ustby’s performance in the third quarter stood out as she scored 10 of her 16 points in the quarter, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. Ustby also had a strong defensive performance with three steals and two blocks, adding to her five rebounds and three assists in the game. 

Kelly’s strong fourth quarter was just a fraction of her scoring as she went for 19 points on the night, adding three assists and three steals.

When was it decided?

The game was decided right at the very end as redshirt guard Eva Hodgson knocked down two crucial free throws to put the game out of reach and give the Tar Heels the win.

Why does it matter?

The win brings UNC’s conference winning streak to four games after they lost their first three. The win also puts the Tar Heels at 2-0 in their matchups with their Tobacco Road rivals with the road matchups against N.C. State and Duke coming at the tail end of the season.

In addition, the resiliency shown by the team at the end to hold onto their lead despite multiple mistakes bodes well for down the line when North Carolina will find themselves in additional tough matchups.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will look to continue its winning streak in the ACC when they return to Carmichael Arena on Sunday to face Georgia Tech.

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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