Charlise Dunn was on a tear.
After netting a corner three to cut then-No. 16 North Carolina's lead to one point, the sophomore guard hit another triple on Davidson's next possession to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
Despite the ensuing chaos — the Tar Heels went 6-14 on free throws in the fourth quarter and had no field goals in the final two and a half minutes — UNC narrowly avoided the upset in a 74-70 win. North Carolina had numerous attempts to put the game away throughout Sunday night, but hot shooting from the Wildcats forced the Tar Heels to make unexpected adjustments.
“Usually, if a team makes 10 threes, you don't win that game,” head coach Courtney Banghart said. “And so, there were a lot of big plays down the stretch. A lot of not so good plays down the stretch. But for a relatively new roster, how they handle adversity is a good sign."
The setbacks began before the game even started. Earlier that day, UNC found out senior forward Anya Poole, who was listed as day-to-day with a lower leg injury, would sit out the contest. With the veteran cornerstone sidelined, the Tar Heels were forced into small-ball lineups with 6-foot-1 senior Alyssa Ustby at the five.
UNC wasn’t prepared to run small ball for extended periods. The Tar Heels even played some zone defense, which Banghart said they hadn’t practiced with the small lineups either.
“I like that Ustby’s in the game, that makes me happy,” Banghart said. “In terms of what do I like about that lineup, I can learn to like it. I liked it a lot last year, but I like to practice it if we're going to play it.”
It wasn't an ideal lineup, and after Dunn’s 3-pointer put Davidson in front, the two teams exchanged leads for the next four minutes. With 18 seconds to play, senior guard Deja Kelly was fouled with UNC up, 70-69.