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No. 17 UNC women’s basketball topples Hampton, 62-32, on field-trip day

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UNC senior guard Deja Kelly dribbles the ball during a women's basketball game against Hampton University at Carmichael Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.

The No. 17 North Carolina women’s basketball team (3-0) defeated the Hampton Pirates (0-2), 62-32, on Wednesday morning. It was the Tar Heels’ effort on defense that completely shut down the Pirates in the game.

In all four quarters, UNC held Hampton to 11 points or less. With Hampton unable to put the ball in the net and turning it over 29 times, North Carolina had no trouble building momentum throughout the game.  

As the Tar Heels took the court, they were met with support from about 1,500 local school kids. 

“This is always a game we really look forward to,” UNC head coach Courtney Banghart said. “Thinking about all those kids and remembering being, a long time ago now, but being one of those kids. [It's] really cool the energy that they brought.”

Early defensive pressure from graduate guard Lexi Donarski caused several turnovers by Hampton. North Carolina capitalized on fast break opportunities in the first quarter with nine points from beyond the arc in transition. 

The game was physical from the jump with the two teams combining for 11 fouls in the first quarter. However, UNC was able to get the ball to junior forward Maria Gakdeng on the inside, allowing her to find the glass on a turn-around jumper. At the end of the quarter, UNC led 15-6.

In just the first half, North Carolina scored 18 points off of Hampton’s 19 turnovers and headed into the locker room up 32-13. 

“Defensively, we want to be better than the other teams' offense, whatever they're running, and whoever they're whoever they are,” Banghart said. 

The Tar Heels’ momentum carried through the halftime break with an elbow jumper from senior guard Deja Kelly and then a block by Gakdeng. UNC stole three passes in the paint and the few times Hampton got an open look at the rim, they were unable to convert. 

Despite only putting eight points on the board in the fourth quarter, North Carolina sealed the game at 62-32. Kelly led UNC with 12 points while sophomore guard Paulina Paris added 11 in the 30-point victory.

Despite dropping one spot in the NCAA rankings after a close win against Davidson, Kelly and her team are only focused on what is in their control moving forward. 

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“Our goal is to be one of the top teams in the end when it matters,” Kelly said. “And so that's really all our focus is on right now.”

North Carolina will play again in Carmichael Arena against Elon University on Saturday at 3 p.m. 


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