GREENSBORO, N.C. — The No. 18 North Carolina women’s basketball team (21-9, 11-7 ACC) opened up postseason play by defeating Clemson (17-15, 7-11 ACC), 68-58, in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Thursday evening at the Greensboro Coliseum.
UNC redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson broke out of her recent shooting slump and went 3-3 from downtown in the first five minutes. However, Clemson forward Amari Robinson put up nine points of her own, and the Tigers trailed 18-13 at the first media timeout.
With UNC’s star junior guard Deja Kelly resting early, the Tigers went on a short 4-0 run before junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams hit a three on the left wing to halt Clemson’s momentum. First-year guard Paulina Paris and junior forward Alyssa Ustby forced a Clemson turnover and Paris finished the fastbreak layup to close out the first quarter.
Todd-Williams opened up the second quarter with a corner three as the Tar Heels strung together a few defensive stops. Robinson scored another four points to continue carrying Clemson’s offense, notching 17 points by halftime, and Kelly connected for a 3-pointer to put UNC up 32-26.
Sophomore forward Destiny Adams snuck inside for a layup and drew a charge on the other end. North Carolina forced a shot-clock violation on the Tigers’ next possession and Ustby found Adams inside for another basket. Another Tiger turnover led to an Ustby mid-range basket and Clemson head coach Amanda Butler called timeout.
The Tigers reverted back to their 2-3 zone and forced back-to-back turnovers to go on a 5-0 run, including a fastbreak corner three from guard Daisha Bradford. Kelly picked up her third foul near halftime and was sidelined for the third time. UNC led 40-32 at halftime.
The Tar Heels began to extend their lead well into the third quarter, with junior forward Anya Poole, Ustby and Todd-Williams combining for eight points. Guard Ale'Jah Douglas connected on a deep three and Hodgson hit another 3-pointer. Ustby went coast to coast for an easy fastbreak layup to put North Carolina up 53-39.
Clemson gained some traction on a 5-0 run while Ustby picked up her fourth foul. Paris had back-to-back turnovers with Kelly sidelined, and Adams made an errant pass to close out the third quarter, with UNC’s lead down to just seven points.