The roof blew off Carmichael Arena on NCAA women’s basketball’s opening day. Unfortunately for Tar Heels fans, it was because of a last-second basket by the visiting team.
Gardner-Webb collected its first-ever win against a ranked opponent as it upended then-No. 22 North Carolina, 66-65, in Chapel Hill, N.C., last Friday. Candace Brown, a psychology senior, scored the final points off an inbounds pass with 1.2 seconds remaining.
“When I got the ball, I was thinking, ‘get the win,’ and I saw an opening and went for it,” Brown said. “I knew I had to win the game so I did whatever it took to win.”
Gardner-Webb took a 64-62 lead with 32 seconds to play after redshirt sophomore Tierra Huntsman’s free throw. North Carolina’s Jamie Cherry drilled a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, giving Gardner-Webb just 7.1 seconds with which to work.
“I saw a couple of our players heads go down … and I knew we had a good chance to win it. If we got fouled, we were at the line. So I had complete confidence that we were going to win it. Seven seconds is a long time.”
WGWG play-by-play voice Jared Pankhurst had the call:
New rules enacted this season allow teams to advance the ball to the frontcourt following a timeout made in the last minute of the game. Gardner-Webb’s inbounds was deflected into the backcourt, momentarily causing some confusion.
“We kind of got lost in the last play,” said Cherry, who scored a game-high 25 points. “Everybody, I guess, just assumed that they were going to call backcourt and as soon as everybody stood up. That’s when (Brown) started driving to the basket.”
Gardner-Webb led by one point at halftime, but North Carolina took charge in the third, closing the period with a 51-36 advantage. However, the Runnin’ Bulldogs outscored the Tar Heels 30-14 in the final quarter.
The final layup capped a 17-point performance for Brown, who was later named the Big South Conference’s co-player of the week.
Gardner-Webb is 3-0 after defeating Wofford, 64-61, Thursday. Brown led her team again with 25 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs next host UNC Greensboro Tuesday, Nov. 24.