COLUMBUS, Ohio — If sophomore forward Destiny Adams were to identify a mantra for this season, it would be “hard to beat.”
“I think we faced adversity,” she said. “Our motto was to be 'hard to beat,' and I think we brought that the majority of the season.”
In UNC’s season-ending 71-69 loss to No. 3 seed Ohio State, the Tar Heels pushed the Buckeyes to the brink while battling through adverse circumstances. Without starters Deja Kelly or Eva Hodgson, who missed the latter part of the game due to injuries, North Carolina began to claw back from a double-figure deficit in the fourth quarter. The final period represented a tenacity that served as a common thread throughout the season.
The first test came after Hodgson, attempting to draw a charge on senior forward Eboni Walker, hit the floor with eight minutes to play. When Hodgson stood up and continued to grab at her head, she was benched. Following the loss, she was diagnosed with a concussion.
With seven minutes remaining, Kelly awkwardly curled around a screen and quickly collapsed. She was soon carried off of the court and hobbled to the locker room with a banged-up knee.
North Carolina was down by 12 points. Two starters were gone, and the season was on the line.
After Kelly left the floor, the Tar Heels huddled together. The message was clear — another soldier had to step up.
“I would definitely say we just fought with the younger guys in there,” junior wing Kennedy Todd-Williams said. “They definitely locked in. I thought that was a big moment for us.”
Three bench players — Kayla McPherson, Paulina Paris and Destiny Adams — were forced to play in critical minutes down the stretch.