PORTLAND, Oregon — The No. 8 women’s basketball team from North Carolina was down by as much as 12 points and led only 5-43 but clinched an 85-79 win over No. 18 Oregon at Thursday’s Phil Knight Invitational the Chiles Center of the University of Portland.
All five tar-heel starters played in front of a neutral but inclined Oregon crowd and Knight himself sat on the sidelines and scored double digits, led by 21-year-old senior Eva Hodgson. Alyssa Usby scored 19, Yes Kelly 17, Anya Poole 11 and Kennedy Todd Williams 10
Oregon took a 7-0 lead when UNC missed their first three shots. Then the Tar Heels got rolling and scored the next eight – with a layup from Kelly, a three-point play from Ustby and a three-point play from Todd-Williams – to take an 8-7 lead after four minutes of play. But the Ducks quickly regained the advantage and UNC didn’t see it again until the end of the third quarter, although the Tar Heels reduced their deficit to two on numerous occasions.
Oregon led 12, 39-27, after a three-pointer by Te-Hina Paopao 4-21 to play before halftime. The Tar Heels cut Todd-Williams’ lead on a three-pointer to two 41 seconds before the break, then Paopao hit another three-pointer to make the score 44-39 at half-time.
The Ducks extended their lead to 11 in the third quarter before the Tar Heels finally crushed it. Seconds from time, Hodgson took a charge to return the ball to UNC. Freshman Paulina Paris’ only bucket of the game was a layup on the third-quarter buzzer to bring UNC by one, 56-55. It was Carolina’s first lead since going 8-7.
Oregon ran again, rising by eight, 66-58, after a layup by Paopao, who finished at 18 and was one of four Ducks to make doubles. Playing at 7:40, the Tar Heels used a time-out to regroup and then assembled a 14-3 run over the next 2:28 to finally take the lead.
Hogdson, whose 21 points marked her as a tar heel high, hit a three in front of the Carolina bench, took the foul and then took a free throw for a four-point game that put Carolina 72-69, 5-12 ahead brought , and UNC was never re-tightened. She made every shot she made in the fourth quarter: three 3-pointers and five free throws for 14 points in that period.
Ustby finished the tournament with a team-high eight boards to go with her 19 points, and Kelly led with seven assists, which is her season high and one just below her career high.
Sophomore Destiny Adams provided a spark off the bench, playing the entire fourth quarter and finishing with five points (2-2 from the field) and five boards.