The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, May 30, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

No. 17 UNC women's basketball earns 68-39 win over Elon

20231118_Soukthavone_wbb-elon-2.NEF
UNC senior guard Alyssa Ustby (1) defends her opponent during the women’s basketball game against Elon University at the Carmichael Arena on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

The No. 17 UNC women’s basketball team (4-0, 0-0 ACC) defeated Elon (1-3, 0-0 CAA), 68-39, on Saturday afternoon at Carmichael Arena.

The Tar Heels finished out their four game season-opening homestand undefeated, with this victory being their third game in just seven days.

The game was sloppy early on, with UNC conceding two turnovers in the game’s first two minutes. Senior forward Alyssa Ustby then took control early, trekking the length of the floor twice for coast-to-coast-buckets. 

“For me, everything starts on defense,” Utsby said. “My activity, personally, along with our collective five people on the defensive end. That’s really where I get my offensive drive from.” 

A 3-pointer from sophomore guard Kayla McPherson and a jumper from senior guard Deja Kelly prompted an Elon timeout and bring the Tar Heels to 18 points.

 Phoenix forward Ajia James hit a three-pointer to beat the first quarter buzzer, bringing the score to 18-15, UNC. The turnover trends continued in the second quarter, including an Elon 10-second violation. The teams combined for 18 first half turnovers.

Elon was able to attack the basket with ease, taking advantage of mismatches and connecting on interior shots, shooting 9-15 from inside the arc in the first half. After subbing back in, Ustby made an immediate impact, scoring a putback layup to extend the Tar Heel lead to 26-19 midway through the second quarter. 

A 3-pointer from graduate guard Lexi Donarski in the half’s final seconds gave the Tar Heels a 36-23 heading into halftime.

Ustby led the way in the first half with 10 points and five rebounds. Kelly added 10 points, while playing the entire first half.

Despite good shot selections, the ball didn't drop through the hoop for UNC to start the third quarter, making just one of its first 10 field goal attempts.

“I feel like we left too many points on the board today,” head coach Courtney Banghart said. “But our job is to get good scoring opportunities, and I feel like we’re doing that.”

Tempers flew after players fought for a rebound, resulting in Elon guard Jessica Booth being assessed a technical foul.

The Tar Heels went on a 7-0 run midway through the third quarter, keeping the Phoenix scoreless for over four minutes.

UNC beat the buzzer again, with McPherson nailing a step-back 3-pointer to put North Carolina up 56-34 entering the fourth quarter.

Ustby dropped in a left hander through the foul and viciously denied a shot on the defensive end as well. 

Despite the miscues, UNC took pride in its defensive intensity, racking up 11 steals, forcing 21 turnovers, and holding the Phoenix to just 7.1 percent shooting from downtown.

Ustby led the Tar Heels with 16 points and 11 rebounds, with Kelly and junior forward Maria Gakdeng each adding 13 points.

“Calling for the ball, knowing I can make these finishes, and my teammates sharing the ball helped out a lot,” Gakdeng said.

The Tar Heels will travel down to Estero, Florida, for their next game, facing off against Vermont in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 24 at 1:30 p.m.

@dylanstalterr

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.