BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Hot-shooting Indiana handed the North Carolina women’s basketball team their first loss of the season Thursday night, 87-63 at the Hoosiers’ Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in a top-10 matchup, the Tar Heels’ second of so many games.
Number 5 Indiana improved to 8-0 with a win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup. The sixth-ranked Tar Heels fell to 6-1 after a win over then-No. 5 Iowa State.
“It was their night and definitely not ours and that’s a bad combination,” UNC coach said Courtney Banghart said.
Junior Kennedy Todd Williams led UNC with 20 points, which is their career high set six games ago in the season opener. She hit a career-best four three-pointers in six attempts and also had three rebounds, two assists and a block.
Yes Kelly added 11 points and the team’s best seven assists to go with just one turnover, polishing her best assist-turnover ratio in the conference. Teonni key also hit double digits for the Tar Heels and scored 10 points for their second straight double digit game and third in the last five games.
At the other end of the court, Indiana shot 53.3 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from long range. The Hoosiers hit five of their six three-point attempts in the first quarter and went 11-17 through three quarters (64.7 percent) before scoring just one of six in the fourth. Amid the three-point barrage — IU’s 12 is the most from an opponent this season — Mackenzie Holmes scored 25 points inside to lead the Hoosiers. Sydney Parrish had 24, including four threes. Sara Scalia also hit four from long range to finish on 12.
“They shot really well and we didn’t guard the bow, we didn’t guard the color, we didn’t guard the penetration, we didn’t guard the connection,” Banghart said. “We were just uncharacteristically not good at that end.”
After trailing at halftime in the last three games, the Tar Heels looked set to get rolling early in this game. UNC took a 7-0 lead with threes from Kelly and Todd-Williams and a free-throw from the latter. But the home team took the next 13 points and UNC again failed to lead.
The Hoosiers extended their lead to double digits early in the second quarter with a three-pointer from Parrish that put it 32-21. After that, the Tar Heels could never achieve the margin in the single digits.
The Hoosiers led 49-33 at halftime after shooting 67 percent overall and 83 percent from three-point in the first 20 minutes.
Carolina’s 63 points marked a season low at a season low 35.4 shooting percent, though UNC had its best three-point shooting of the season and went 7-14, a season-best 50 percent while matching the previous season’s high with seven Brands.
The game was UNC fourth straight from home but their second this season on an opponent’s home court. Banghart credited the 5,939 spectators in the Assembly Hall with an advantage that her team didn’t handle well.
“I thought defensively we didn’t play with the toughness that you have to play with in this environment,” said Banghart. “Hopefully we can learn from this because we’re going to have more environments like this.”
After a hiatus for the start of final exams, UNC is back in action on Wednesday hosting UNCW at Carmichael Arena.