The UNC women’s basketball team’s descent into Basketball Hades continued on Sunday, as the Tar Heels lost a 14-point second-half lead in a 68-60 overtime loss at Duke. It’s the largest blown lead in head coach Courtney Banghart’s tenure in Chapel Hill, and the second consecutive overtime defeat for Carolina.
The Tar Heels built their double-digit advantage after leading by just a point at halftime. Carolina came out hot in the third quarter, scoring the first 10 points and going up 46-32 on a fast-break layup from Deja Kelly. But Duke responded, cutting the deficit to 46-40 midway through the fourth quarter and nosing in front on a three-pointer with 2:52 remaining.
UNC swung back into the lead on a basket by Donarski, but a pair of Blue Devil free throws tied the game again at 53-53 with 1:32 to go. A breathless final seconds saw Duke attempt to hold the ball for the last shot with the game tied, Reniya Kelly steal it and then draw a jump ball with less than a second remaining. With the possession arrow favoring Carolina and .9 seconds to go, Alyssa Ustby cut to the rim and laid up what would have been the game-winning bucket. Unfortunately, the ball bounced off the rim and the game went to the extra session.
UNC briefly took the lead in overtime on a three from Deja Kelly, but Duke took command midway through the five minutes after Ustby fouled out. Duke went up by six at 64-58 with 1:43 to go, and after a Kelly basket extended that lead to 67-60 with 55 seconds remaining. Carolina wouldn’t score again.
Kelly finished with 20 points, while Reniya Kelly and Donarski combined for 24. Ustby struggled before having to watch the final minutes, finishing with only six points on 2-14 shooting, including the consequential missed layup. She had reached double figures in each of her last seven outings.
The loss drops Carolina to 15-9 overall and 7-5 in ACC play after beginning 7-1. The Tar Heels will be back in action when they host Pittsburgh on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Featured image via Associated Press/Darron Cummings
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