The North Carolina women’s basketball team outlasted Louisville this afternoon with a final score of 79-68. The Tar Heels (14-5, 5-1) entered today’s contest as the No. 23 team in the country, and Courtney Banghart knew they had a tall task as the No. 13 Cardinals (16-3, 5-1) strolled into Chapel Hill with an undefeated conference record.
Deja Kelly led North Carolina with 23 points, but Alyssa Ustby helped in a handful of ways once again, totaling 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 blocks. The Tar Heels shot a near 50% from the field and 17-23 from the free throw line to suppress Louisville down the stretch.
It was a back and forth first half in Carmichael Arena that started with ten straight points from Lexi Donarksi. The Tar Heels stretched the lead out to nine at the end of the first quarter, but the Cardinals narrowed the gap and went into the break all knotted up at 36.
The story of the second half was the contrasting scoring runs. Louisville opened up the third quarter with a few easy buckets and it was North Carolina having to battle back, but once they did, Deja Kelly and the Heels never looked back. It was a 13-2 run to end the third from North Carolina.
After a few small spurts from the Cardinals to cut the lead to two possessions, a handful of Tar Heels continued to answer and knock down tough shots to shut the door in the closing minutes. This was a physical contest with lots of whistles, especially in the second half. North Carolina’s ability to knock down free throws to end these Louisville runs loomed large in the eventual victory.
UNC has won eight of their last nine and is playing arguably the best consistent basketball they have all year. They are now atop the ACC standings and looking to climb in the next national ranking as well after two big wins this week. Next up for the Tar Heels is Miami (12-5, 2-4) on Thursday at 8:00pm.