The North Carolina women’s basketball team (10-10, 1-8 ACC) defeated Georgia Tech (14-5, 5-3 ACC) by a score of 70-57 in Carmichael Arena.
The first half was, in part, a story of which team could sink the most three-point attempts afforded to them. Both teams struggled to contain the drives of the other without allowing open three-pointers, but it was the Tar Heels who took advantage of this.
UNC shot 6-9 from beyond the arc in the first half compared to the Yellow Jackets’ 4-13. Normally the one creating open shots for others, junior guard Deja Kelly found herself with several catch-and-shoot opportunities, shooting 3-4 from three.
Kelly’s 13 first-half points included two buzzer beaters at the end of the first and second quarters. The first buzzer beater saw Kelly get to her favorite pull-up jumper at the elbow, sinking the jumper with a hand in the face. The second was an easier endeavor, a catch-and-shoot three-pointer to put the Tar Heels up 37-28.
Part of what created open shots in the first half was the Tar Heels’ assault on the rim, particularly in transition. This continued in the second half. UNC scored ?? points in paint compared to Georgia Tech’s ??.
Junior wings Kennedy Todd-Williams and Alyssa Ustby both used the third quarter to show their prowess at finishing through contact. As the Yellow Jackets’ cold shooting continued, the Tar Heels continued to pull away.
Who stood out?
Unlike in recent games, Kelly did not carry a heavy load to set the tempo for the team. Able to focus on scoring, Kelly led all scorers with 18 points on 7-14 shooting.
Kelly wasn’t alone. Her scoring was supplemented by Ustby’s 17 points, Todd-Williams’ 13, and graduate guard Eva Hodgson’s 10.
All four players benefitted from the fast-paced, transition-focused attack, finding tight angles and braving heavy contact to attack the rim and finish.
When was it decided?
A fast break three-pointer by Kelly with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter would represent the second time the Tar Heels took a double-digit lead in the game. From that point, UNC would never lead by less than 10.
A heavily contested Ustby up-and-under finish prompted a Georgia Tech timeout, but a stoppage in play would neither fix the Yellow Jackets’ shooting luck nor arrest the Tar Heels’ momentum.
Why does it matter?
Georgia Tech is now 1-8 in ACC play, so a defeat for the Tar Heels would have hurt more than a win helps them. Little was revealed in this game that wasn’t already known about UNC.
The game showcased the Tar Heels’ renowned transition attack, which disorganized the Yellow Jacket defense even after a fast break opportunity was taken away. It also displayed the several weapons the Tar Heels can rely upon to attack the rim and either finish or create open shots.
The game also displayed UNC’s priority to protect the rim. Despite allowing 23 Georgia Tech three-point attempts, the Tar Heels would only give up seven threes, preferring to limit the Yellow Jackets to 18 points in the paint.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will travel to the Petersen Events Center to face off against Pittsburgh on Jan. 26 at 6pm.
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