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The Daily Tar Heel

No. 20 UNC women's basketball falls to No. 21 FSU, 70-62, in hard-fought road game

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UNC graduate student guard Lexi Donarski (20) takes a free throw during the women’s basketball game against Oklahoma in the Spectrum Center on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. UNC wins 61-52.

The No. 20 North Carolina women’s basketball team (11-5, 3-1 ACC) lost to No. 21 Florida State (13-4, 4-1 ACC) on Thursday, 70-62, in a gritty road game. 

Florida State ended North Carolina’s five game win streak by way of three-point field goals, notching 10 on the game. Seminole fifth-year guard Sara Bejedi never lost her momentum from behind the arc, making 5-9 of her 3-point attempts. 

In the first six minutes of the game, the Tar Heels committed four turnovers and Florida State converted these stolen possessions into 10 points. 

Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the first quarter. North Carolina struggled to get the ball to the paint while Florida State missed multiple layups. The Seminoles were finally able to end their scoring drought with a three-pointer from junior guard O’Mariah Gordon. UNC ended the quarter shooting under 30 percent from the field. 

At the start of the second quarter graduate guard Lexi Donarksi set the North Carolina offense in motion with a pump fake from behind the arc. But, so did Bejedi, who knocked down three threes. 

The difference between the two teams in the first half came down to the three-point shot. The Seminoles shot 8-23 through the first half while the Tar Heels shot 1-8.  

North Carolina ended the second quarter in a three-minute scoring drought and continued to be plagued by trips to the free-throw line. UNC only made it to the free-throw line once in the first half, failing to draw fouls in the paint. 

In addition, North Carolina allowed 41 points in the first half — the most it has allowed all season.

“Attack them, attack them, attack them” is what the message was in the locker room at halftime according to Kelly. She added that the team wanted to go back to the team they were before the game had even started.

In the second half, UNC attempted to play the catch-up game with three-point shots but ultimately was never able to find success. 

At the end of the third quarter, the Tar Heel offense began to find momentum on a 7-0 run as sophomore guard Paulina Paris found her rhythm with eight points in the 10 minute period. North Carolina also showed more aggression in rebounding efforts which led to more opportunities on offense. 

“We knew we had to do the things that we were supposed to do coming into this game, which was to attack with purpose on the offensive end and really lock in on the defensive end,” Poole said. 

In the fourth quarter, Indya Nivar spearheaded the offense with four quick points off the bench to close the gap to a single-digit deficit. Senior guard Deja Kelly continued to make clutch shots to bolster the North Carolina offense and bring it within striking distance to FSU. 

However, in the middle of the fourth quarter she fouled out, the North Carolina offense was slowed, and the team was unable to complete the comeback win. 

“I leave this game more hopeful,” said head coach Courtney Banghart. “Every game on our schedule is an opportunity and so this feels like we gave one away.”

The Tar Heels will return to Carmichael Arena on Sunday to face the Virginia Cavaliers at 4 p.m. 

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