***Listen to the story***
Things started well for UNC. Allisha Gray and the Tar Heels raced out to a 22-9 lead in the first half thanks to some hot perimeter shooting.
At the intermission, Carolina held a 36-30 advantage over Stanford. Gray totaled 15 points, making six of her eight attempts from the floor.
The second half wasn’t as favorable to the Tar Heels. The fouls started piling up and the shots stopped falling. And the Cardinal took full advantage by going on a 12-0 run and gaining their first lead since it was 2-0 in the first half at 43-42 with 15 minutes to play.
But credit the Tar Heels, wanting desperately to earn a Final Four reunion with Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell, for continuing to battle on, even reclaiming the lead at 63-62 with a clutch three-point make by freshman Jessica Washington with 3:50 remaining in the game.
Sloppy turnovers and missed opportunities characterized the waning minutes for the Tar Heels; however, as things started to unravel and Stanford pulled away, booking a Final Four meeting with undefeated Connecticut on Sunday.
Gray led the scoring charge for Carolina with 19 points while Stanford senior Chiney Ogwumike led her team with 20 points.
DeShields was visibly nowhere near 100 percent following a bevy of injuries. But the banged up Tar Heel fought admirably, finishing with 13 points despite her ailments putting a damper on her usual explosive skills.
There were no tears in the locker room for the Tar Heels. Optimism ran supreme, and for good reason. Carolina has no seniors. Everybody is returning for another run at a Final Four trip, and this time, they’ll have Coach Hatchell back at the helm.
Walter Storholt, of the Tar Heel Sports Network, sums up the bright future of the Tar Heels in fine fashion.
“The good news is that all these Tar Heels will be back. No seniors on the squad. It’s a freshman-led team. The juniors will be seniors next year. This team will have a lot to look forward to over the next couple of years. They proved that here in this tournament,” Storholt says.