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Monday March 20th

No. 11 UNC women's basketball finds footing in second quarter, downs UVA 73-62

UNC redshirt first-year guard Kayla McPherson (14) goes up for a layup during UNC's game against UVA on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. UNC won 73-62.
Buy Photos UNC redshirt first-year guard Kayla McPherson (14) goes up for a layup during UNC's game against UVA on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. UNC won 73-62.

Behind a balanced scoring attack, the No. 11 North Carolina women’s basketball team (17-5, 8-3 ACC) beat the Virginia Cavaliers (14-9, 3-9 ACC), 73-62, Thursday night at Carmichael Arena. 

What happened?

The Cavaliers earned the first possession of the night and immediately fed it inside the post. Senior forward Camryn Taylor knocked down a short-range jumper over Anya Poole to get the Cavaliers on the board first.

Despite the early display of offensive continuity, both teams soon went cold. North Carolina didn’t convert its first field attempt until Poole swished home an elbow jumper at the 3:17 mark of the first period.

Shortly after, redshirt first-year guard Kayla McPherson entered the game and made her scoring prowess known. The Hull, Ga. native connected on a driving layup and transition jumper to help the Tar Heels take a one-point lead after the first quarter.

Out of the brief stoppage, UNC continued to feed the hot hand. McPherson went to work on an isolation set in the corner, using a swift side-step maneuver before canning a corner 3-pointer.

With its scoring struggles in the rearview, North Carolina began to push the pace. Junior small forward Alyssa Ustby and McPherson both delivered buckets in transition to help stretch UNC’s lead to 14. 

Virginia fought back to close out the half, behind the play of Taylor Valladay and Alexia Smith. The two guards combined to score the final eight points for the Wahoos to trim North Carolina’s lead to 33-21 at the half. 

North Carolina came out of the break right where it left off. After Poole delivered her fourth basket of the night, junior guard Deja Kelly netted a fastbreak pull up. 

Graduate guard McKenna Dale heated up moments later to help keep Virgina within reach. The Brown transfer swished a pair of buckets from distance in a period that saw Dale tally eight points. 

But every punch delivered by the Cavaliers' outside shooters was answered by a scoring barrage from North Carolina. McPherson, Kelly and junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams each delivered multiple field goals in the second half to maintain UNC’s double-digit lead in the final period. 

From there, UNC cruised to its eighth conference victory, 73-62.

Who stood out? 

After making her Tar Heel debut in UNC’s last game against Clemson, McPherson reinforced why she was such a highlight touted recruit coming out of high school. The redshirt first-year delivered nine first-half points on perfect shooting from the field — highlighted by her corner 3-pointer early in the second period. 

Poole was impressive, logging one of her best outings as a Tar Heel. The Raleigh, N.C. native scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and was active on the defensive end against the Cavaliers’ post players.

When was it decided?

Both teams struggled to find their footing early on, as only one field goal was made between the squads before the first media timeout. Once the Tar Heels hit their stride in the second quarter, ignited by UNC’s increased efforts in transition, the game was in North Carolina’s control.

Why does it matter?

The win extends the Tar Heels’ win streak to eight games. 

North Carolina saw scoring contributions from eight different Tar Heels, including five players who scored double figures. With the competition ramping up in the near future — namely road battles at Louisville, Duke and N.C. State — the ability to maintain a varied offensive attack will be vital for UNC.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels hit the road to take on Louisville. Sunday’s contest is set to start at 12 p.m.


@dthsports |

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