RALEIGH, N.C. – The No. 19 UNC women’s basketball team (18-8, 9-6 ACC) was defeated by the N.C. State Wolfpack (18-8, 8-7 ACC) in a rivalry game that came down to the wire. After the Wolfpack forced overtime, they claimed the eventual 77-66 win.
After UNC accrued a quick 8-2 lead thanks to a string of pull-up jumpers from its guards, the Wolfpack quickly fought back into the game, largely thanks to the work of senior wing Jakia Brown-Turner. Her 3-point jumper and fast-break layup helped N.C. State get back into the game. After some back-and-forth play, the Wolfpack exited the first period with a 15-14 lead.
Near the beginning of the second quarter, UNC first-year point guard Paulina Paris delivered a much-needed 3-pointer to tie the score at 17-17. Paris and junior wing Kennedy Todd-Williams combined for nine of the Tar Heels’ 16 points in the second quarter, which saw UNC slow the pace and rely on extended-range jumpers. N.C. State, on the other hand, pushed the pace en route to a 12-2 difference in fast-break points by the end of the first half. After a last-second steal and layup by North Carolina first-year guard Kayla McPherson, UNC entered the locker room at the half with a 30-29 lead.
In the third quarter, UNC put on a dominant 14-8 performance to take a 7-point lead. Junior forward Alexandra Zelaya put her range on display, hitting a mid-range jumper to start the third quarter and later knocking down a corner three to give UNC a brief 9-point advantage. A Jada Boyd 3-pointer allowed N.C State to trim the deficit a bit before the game gave way to very chippy play. Neither team scored in the final two minutes of the third quarter.
N.C. State came out firing in the final quarter, as the Wolfpack managed to get to the line twice in the first two minutes. Soon thereafter, UNC regained control as its guards pushed the pace, with McPherson, Paris and junior point guard Deja Kelly all slashing to the rim for layups. With just over six minutes remaining in the game, UNC had a 10-point lead.
The Wolfpack slowly cut into the Tar Heels’ lead over the last six minutes of the game. Finally, with a Brown-Turner 3-pointer and a layup by sophomore Aziaha James in the final minute, the Wolfpack found themselves tied with UNC, 62-62.
With 9.2 seconds left on the clock, UNC called a timeout to draw up a potential game-winning play. N.C. State forced a turnover but James couldn’t covert on what would have likely been the game-winning layup as her ball bounced off the front of the rim.
With 1.5 seconds left, UNC advanced the ball. Paris lobbed the ball in-bounds, attempting to connect with redshirt first-year Teonni Key on a tip-in. The ball was out-of-reach of Key, handing N.C. State possession with 1.2 seconds on the clock. The Wolfpack attempted a similar play to connect with sophomore Saniya Rivers, but this was also inconclusive, sending the game into overtime.
Who stood out?
Kelly led all scorers with 16 points on a variety of midrange jumpers and crafty drives to the basket. The junior, despite her 5-foot-8 frame, also grabbed eight rebounds.
When was it decided?
N.C. State quickly went up by five points in the overtime period thanks to a layup by James and a 3-pointer by Brown-Turner. With two minutes remaining in the game, James came up with another steal and was able to convert this time, handing N.C. State a 7-point lead. Kelly quickly drew a foul at the other end of the floor but was unable to convert on either of her free throws. The Wolfpack continued to dominate the game down the stretch to capture a 77-66 win.
Why does it matter?
UNC was without starters Eva Hodgson and Alyssa Ustby yet again on Thursday night. Especially considering Ustby’s importance in UNC’s last game against N.C. State — seen in her 18 rebounds — North Carolina’s ability to put up such a fierce battle was impressive.
When do they play next?
UNC hosts Wake Forest on Sunday at 4 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.
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