CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina women’s lacrosse stars have been here before — undefeated, top-ranked, No. 1 seed and in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. The Tar Heels (18–0) are in the same situation as a year ago, facing Stony Brook at Dorrance Field with a Final Four berth on the line. But five-time All-America attacker Jamie Ortega says that they are in a different place as they prepare to play the No. 8-ranked Seawolves (16–2) at 7:30 Thursday night (ESPNU).
It’s been 13 seasons since the combined anticipation of Carolina’s men’s and women’s basketball seasons has been this high, with both Final Four contenders. The AP Top 25 poll before the 2009–10 season was the last preseason list that ranked both teams in the top 10. The last time both made a preseason AP Top 25 was with the women No. 13 and men No. 6 before the 2014–15 season. If casual women’s basketball followers were ever going to increase their support to help fill Carmichael Arena, now would be the time.
Carolina’s Morasha Wiggins, who played only 181 minutes in 21 games during her freshman season, has reportedly entered the transfer portal. The news was first reported Thursday by Em Adler of The Next, then by WBB Blog publisher Raoul. Adler reported that Wiggins’ finalists are Michigan State, Ohio State, DePaul, Georgia Tech, USC, Kentucky at Oklahoma
Thanks to its Sweet 16 run, Carolina’s women’s basketball team will send a team to the USA Basketball 3X Nationals three-on-three competition next month. Rising juniors Deja Kelly, Kennedy Todd-Williams, Alyssa Ustby and Alexandra Zelaya will make up the UNC team that will complete at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., May 13–15.
The NCAA has a way of making plenty of head-scratching decisions and, unfortunately, the latest has ended the Carolina playing career of last season’s starting point guard on the women’s basketball team. Carlie Littlefield transferred to UNC after earning an undergraduate degree at Princeton. Like other players who were at Ivy League schools during the 2020–21 season, she won’t get an extra year of eligibility like most athletes since the entire conference decided not to not play basketball that season.
Ciera Toomey first marveled at the beauty of the UNC campus when she was 10, traveling home to Pennsylvania from a Pinehurst golf tournament. Toomey thought she’d just play golf for the rest of her life and remembers liking the idea of moving back to North Carolina at some point to take advantage of the terrific golf options and better weather. The No. 3-ranked player in the Class of 2023 committed to North Carolina on Monday night and will indeed head back to the Tar Heel state. But a “life-changing” breakout AAU season with NEPA Elite three years later before her freshman year in high school dramatically changed her focus.
Not only is Carolina’s Alyssa Ustby a versatile basketball player who can punt, pass and kick a football, but she’s also a good student. For the second consecutive year, the rising junior from Rochester, Minn., was named to the All-ACC Women’s Basketball Academic team. The honor came Tuesday, days after she won the UNC punt, pass and kick competition and kicked a 35-yard field goal at Kenan Stadium at halftime of the spring football game.
It’s a big sign that a women’s basketball program is taking huge strides on the national stage when it beats out Connecticut for a recruit. North Carolina has now done it twice in three years. Five-star 6–3 stretch-five Ciera Toomey, the No. 3 Class of 2023 player, committed to the Tar Heels on Monday night, picking UNC over seven other schools, including UConn, in an announcement on Twitter and Instagram.
By R.L. Bynum CHAPEL HILL — Carolina fans already knew that Alyssa Ustby was versatile from watching her score, pass, rebound, distribute and defend on the basketball court with dogged determination. But they didn’t know just how versatile until she kicked it up a few notches at halftime of UNC’s #TyleeStrong Spring Football Game on…
After a breakout season that ended by giving eventual national champion South Carolina its toughest NCAA tournament game, expectations are high for North Carolina’s women’s basketball team next season. The Tar Heels peaked in the AP Top 25 at No. 16 on Feb. 28 but are higher than that in two “way-too-early” preseason rankings that came out this week. The only ACC team picked higher than Carolina on both lists is Notre Dame.
GREENSBORO — North Carolina’s women’s basketball team invested so much into the season. For all the intangibles that so often worked out for the No. 5-seed and 17th-ranked Tar Heels, they could have used something else when reaching the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.
A little more height.
After the Carolina women’s basketball program’s steady ascension under Coach Courtney Banghart in her first two seasons, the Tar Heels have rocketed toward the national spotlight this season. Banghart knew she had all of the elements for a special team before the season, even if most observers saw last season’s 13–11 finish and weren’t convinced. Only predicted to finish seventh in the ACC, the Tar Heels finished tied for third.