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'Pissed off': UNC women's hoops on a four-game skid following overtime loss at Duke

UNC women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart talking to her team during a timeout at the women’s basketball game versus Duke on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. UNC fell to Duke 60-68 in overtime.

DURHAM, N.C. — After Sunday’s 68-60 overtime loss to Duke, Deja Kelly said her team was pissed off.

While head coach Courtney Banghart fielded questions during the post-game press conference, the senior guard and team captain kept her eyes fixed on the back wall, while first-year guard Reniya Kelly stared blankly at her hands in her lap. There was no hiding the palpable disappointment and frustration among North Carolina’s leading scorers. 

“The mentality has to be you’re pissed off,” Deja Kelly said. “We’re not good right now. We can be, but we’re not right now.” 

UNC's loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium marks the fourth straight loss for the Tar Heels. Offensive inconsistencies and foul trouble for key players took North Carolina out of rhythm and allowed Duke to execute a 15-4 run in extra time to hand UNC its second straight overtime defeat.

“We weren’t good enough,” Banghart said. “Obviously, had a chance to win it there. And then, in overtime, they made more plays than us.” 

These issues aren’t new. After falling to Virginia in January, Kelly said the Tar Heels maintained some positivity. Then came the late-game breakdown in the N.C. State loss. Next, the Virginia Tech overtime heartbreaker in which graduate guard Lexi Donarski wished the team "could have made a couple more shots at the end." And now? Another overtime loss to deepen the team’s losing skid. 

Close, but once again, not good enough. 

“We got to get better late,” Banghart said. “Or else this is a feeling we’ll continue to feel.” 

Kelly has a long list of things the Tar Heels need to improve on. First, she pointed to the shooting troubles plaguing North Carolina. Specifically, she said UNC needs to finish around the rim, run more transition offense and find open shots. After putting up 20 points in the third quarter, UNC shot 2-of-14 in the fourth and 3-of-10 in extra time. 

Once again, this isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Tar Heels. 

Against then-No. 17 Virginia Tech, a lack of offensive cohesion stunted North Carolina’s efforts in its first ACC overtime battle, as they shot 13 percent from the field in crunch time. Currently, UNC ranks 11th in the conference in field goal percentage, shooting 42 percent from the field. 

“We’re taking too many contested shots late in the game," Banghart said. "[We don't really have] a guy that can get shots for other people, to be honest, at a high enough rate."

Kelly said there also needs to be a focus on UNC's defense and rebounding efforts. Because Duke was stripping the ball right out of North Carolina’s hands and collecting so many offensive boards in the final minutes of regulation, she said it slowed down the little momentum her team gathered in the beginning of the first half.  

More than that, though, she said the Tar Heels need more players to adopt a “killer mentality” — to do whatever is necessary to get the win. One or two people cannot carry the effort on their own.

Simply put, someone else has to step up. 

“The thing is, we’re not gonna get better at doing the same things,” Banghart said. “We’ve got to be able to play a little bit differently late. If we do, I think these results can change. It matters because we want to win every game we play — every single one, let’s be clear.” 


@dthsports |

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