CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Coach Courtney Banghart's first Triangle rivalry game ended in celebration for the Tar Heels Thursday night, as the North Carolina women's basketball team handed No. 9 NC State its first loss of the season, 66-60. At Carmichael Arena, a trio of seniors led the way for UNC as Shayla Bennett scored 20, Taylor Koenen had 14 points and a team-best 11 rebounds and Madinah Muhammad added 13.
UNC improved to 12-3 overall and 3-1 in ACC play with the win, while NC State fell to 14-1 (3-1 ACC). Next up for Carolina is a trip to face Florida State in Tallahassee on Sunday.
The Tar Heels went into Thursday's game trying to bounce back from their first ACC loss on Sunday at Virginia Tech. Initially this game didn't look much better, as UNC trailed by six after the first quarter and by as many as 14 during the second. At halftime, NC State was up 38-28 behind 13 points from Aislinn Konig. The senior guard hit five of her seven shots, including three three-pointers, before halftime. As a team, NC State shot 53.6 percent in the first half.
But UNC continued to grind, clawing back into the game. The Tar Heels were still down by 10 midway through the period, but they closed the third quarter on a 10-0 run — made up of six from Koenen and four from Bennett — to make it a tie game heading into the final period.
In the fourth, the Wolfpack quickly went up by two on a pair of free throws. But Bennett tied it on a layup, and Muhammad gave UNC its first lead since midway through the opening period with two foul shots that made the score 50-48 with 8:14 to play.
Unbeaten no more! Check out the highlights from tonight's Carolina Victory over #9 NC State in Carmichael! pic.twitter.com/8Wv8Itcdgw— Carolina Women's Basketball (@uncwbb) January 10, 2020
Bennett then hit another, assisted by junior Janelle Bailey, who finished with eight points, seven rebounds and played standout defense on NC State center Elissa Cunane. The Wolfpack's leading scorer came into the game averaging 17.5 points but left with just eight on 3-for-11 shooting. Two of her baskets came in the final three minutes, as she twice cut the UNC lead to two, but Carolina answered each time.
Konig hit a three with 26 seconds to play to make it a three-point game, 63-60, but the Tar Heels went 3-for-4 from the foul line in the closing seconds for the final margin, which sent the bench spilling onto the court in celebration.