Tar Heels begin ACC women’s tournament play Thursday; win earns rematch with Duke

After sweeping No. 11 Duke in the regular season, No. 22 North Carolina is a win away from taking on the Blue Devils at the ACC tournament in Greensboro for their third meeting this season. The No. 7-seed Tar Heels (20–9, 11–7 ACC) will need to win a second-round game to make that happen. They play at the Greensboro Coliseum at 6 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s 3:30 first-round game between No. 15-seed Pittsburgh (10–29, 3–15) and No. 10 Clemson (16–14, 7–11).

No. 22 UNC makes clutch plays down stretch, finishes another season sweep of No. 11 Duke in defensive battle

DURHAM — In a torrid defensive battle, No. 22 North Carolina broke through with the game on the line in the fourth quarter and won the game at the line. The Tar Heels rode a 14–2 fourth-quarter run to their second consecutive regular-season sweep of Duke, making all nine free-throw attempts in the final period.

UNC starters return but Heels lose heartbreaker to Hokies on buzzer-beater

CHAPEL HILL — All of North Carolina’s starters are back, and the No. 22 Tar Heels showed Thursday that they’re loaded for a big late-season run. But that nearly full roster ran up against one of the hottest teams in the country. With junior wing Alyssa Ustby and guard Eva Hodgson back, UNC battled No. 9 Virginia Tech well all night before losing a heartbreaker, 61–59, as the Hokies won their seventh game in a row and ninth in the last 10 games.

Ustby suggests in post that she’ll play this week

UNC coach Courtney Banghart said after the No. 22 Tar Heels’ win Sunday over Wake Forest that Alyssa Ustby was “day to day or even minute to minute maybe,” suggesting that the junior wing was nearing a return. Ustby posted a powerful suggestion on Instagram on Monday night —  a photo of her in uniform and the words “tell a friend to tell a friend …” Officially, she still is listed as day-to-day, but her post seems to indicate that she will play this week.

Pack rallies from 10 down late, surges past UNC in OT

RALEIGH —  Winning at N.C. State without Alyssa Ustby? Most probably thought that was too much to ask, but that group didn’t include the rest of the No. 19 Tar Heels, who nearly pulled it off. Carolina couldn’t finish off the Wolfpack, though, blowing a 10-point lead in the last 4:15 of regulation before N.C. State dominated overtime in a 77–66 victory Thursday. It was an ugly, frustrating collapse for the short-handed Tar Heels (18–8, 9–6 ACC) at a loud and raucous Reynolds Coliseum.

UNC falls, Pack out of Top 25 women’s poll ahead of Thursday game; McPherson rookie of week

North Carolina and N.C. State both fell in the latest AP Top 25 women’s poll after losses last week ahead of Thursday’s big clash in Raleigh. The Tar Heels (18–7, 9–5 ACC), who rebounded from a 75–67 Thursday loss at Syracuse to roll past Boston College 73–55 at home Sunday, slipped five spots to No. 19. The Wolfpack (17–8, 7–7) lost 71–59 Sunday at Virginia, its third defeat in the last five meetings, to fall out of the poll after being ranked No. 22 a week ago.

Eight is enough for No. 14 UNC, thanks to McPherson’s career game, 11 3s, tough defense

CHAPEL HILL — No. 14 North Carolina’s numbers Sunday were daunting: three of eight available players were freshmen, three regular starters were out, and three Tar Heels were making their first career starts. It was easy to overcome all that against one of the worst teams in the ACC since one of those freshmen was guard Kayla McPherson, and UNC made an ACC-season-high 11 3-pointers.

Kelly’s career game isn’t enough for short-handed Heels at Syracuse

Life on the road in the ACC is challenging enough to begin with, but the difficulty factor goes up without two starters. It can be downright tough when a third starter goes down in the third quarter. It’s even tougher when a fourth starter goes down late. Throw in Syracuse banking in 3-pointers and going 12 of 13 from the free-throw line, and it was a long night for No. 14 North Carolina in Syracuse’s cavernous dome, where the Tar Heels have lost five in a row.

Heels fall in AP Top 25 after 8-game win streak ends at Louisville

Carolina slipped three spots to No. 14 in the latest AP Top 25 women’s poll after the Tar Heels — without two starters — lost 62–55 at Louisville on Sunday. It’s their 11th week ranked in the top 15 this season, the most since 16 weeks in the 2014–15 season. The Tar Heels (17–6, 8–4 ACC) won their eighth consecutive game with Thursday’s 73–62 home win over Virginia before the Cardinals ended the streak. Fifth-year guard Eva Hodgson (upper-body injury) missed both games, and junior wing Alyssa Ustby (lower-body injury) was out for the game against Louisville.