CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Freshman Elizabeth Balogun hit three clutch free throws with 2.7 seconds on the clock to tie the game, but North Carolina converted the back end of two free throws to escape with a 91-90 win Thursday night. Balogun finished with a career-high 35 points for her second 30-plus point game of the season, while Lorela Cubaj added a double-double in the loss.
“The resiliency of this young team on the road was impressive and I thought Chanin Scott had the best game I’ve seen her play at Georgia Tech offensively and defensively,” commented head coach MaChelle Joseph. “Elizabeth Balogun continues to prove why she’s one of the best freshmen in the ACC, but also one of the best players in the ACC.
“Give North Carolina credit, they were outstanding today. They made 14-of-28 three-pointers, but when you outrebound somebody by 15 and shoot 50 percent, you feel like you should have a chance to win on the road. That was a tough call at the end, but our players played hard, we persevered all game long. To be down 14 and come back, I’m really proud of this young team learning how to compete on the road.”
How It Happened
It all came down to the final minute of play as Balogun hit a crucial three-pointer in the corner to setup an 86-85 ballgame with 1:57 to play. As time continued to wind down, Kierra Fletcher gave Tech its only lead of the game, hitting a jumper with 50.6 on the clock, but UNC answered quickly to retake the lead on a Paris Kea field goal. Kea gave the Tar Heels a three-point edge with two free throws with 8.6 ticks left before Balogun was fouled attempting to tie the game from beyond the arc. The freshman hit all three free throws to tie the game a 90-90 with 2.7 left to play before Janelle Bailey sealed the win for UNC with a free throw to close the game.
Through the media break of the third quarter, Lotta-Maj Lahtinen chipped in six points as Tech climbed back within seven points after an 11-point halftime deficit. Lahtinen and Balogun combined for 21 points in the frame as the Jackets made it a one possession ballgame, 65-62, entering the final frame. Chanin Scott opened the final 10 minutes converting the layup to setup a 65-64 score. UNC was able to rebuild a six-point lead before Tech used a 9-4 spurt to setup the 86-85 tally and the final minute.
UNC opened the game with momentum, connecting on a pair of three-pointers out of the gate and built a 10-2 lead by the 6:47 mark of the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets responded with a 10-2 run fueled by eight points from Cubaj to close the contest to one possession, 14-12, with 3:07 left in the opening frame. The Tar Heels, who hit nine three-pointers in the first 20 minutes, extended their lead to 14 points in the second quarter, but only outscored the Jackets by two in the frame to lead 48-37 at halftime.
* Georgia Tech dominated on the glass in the first half, leading 23-16 on the boards at intermission
* Tech won the rebounding battle, 39-24, led by a game-high 12 rebounds from Cubaj
* Cubaj posted her fourth career double-double with 17 points to tie her career-high
* Lahtinen finished with 14 points and Scott added 10 points
* UNC connected on nine three-pointers in the first half and shot 47.2 percent (17-36) from the field
* The Tar Heels finished 14-of-28 from three-point range and shot 49.2 percent (29-59) from the field
* The Jackets finished the game shooting a 48.5 percent (33-68) clip from the floor and was 18-for-23 from the free throw line
* UNC led by 14 points in the second half before Tech erased its deficit, outscoring the Tar Heels, 53-43 in the second half
Georgia Tech continues this road swing visiting No. 5 Notre Dame on Sunday. Tip in South Bend is slated for noon on RSN.