Women’s basketball can’t escape Tar Heel runs

The Demon Deacons are still in search of their first ACC road win


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Jewel Spear shoots a jumper during the loss against UNC Sunday.

Ian Steffensen, Sports Editor

Wake Forest women’s basketball looked to bounce back and regain momentum on Sunday against the University of North Carolina, following their two-game losing skid. While the Demon Deacons were competitive for most of the contest, a strong third quarter push by the Tar Heels put the game out of reach. Wake Forest dropped its third straight game to North Carolina 71-58.

Both sides were scoreless on their opening possession, but junior Jewel Spear got the Demon Deacons on the board with an uncontested triple from behind the arc. The Tar Heels responded on the other end with Deja Kelly converting on a quick mid-range jumper and then hitting a 3-pointer while fouled to make it a four-point play. North Carolina held a three-point lead now, but it did not last long, with senior Olivia Summiel nailing a pull-up three to even the contest at six.

Wake Forest played well offensively the rest of the quarter, but the defensive presence was lacking. The Demon Deacons allowed inside passes and easy finishes at the basket and blew defensive assignments on fast breaks which kept the game tied at 14. Sophomore Alyssa Andrews hit a deep three from the left sideline, and the Tar Heels responded with one of their own to keep the contest even. On the next possession, Andrews, who was double-teamed, made a great kick-out pass to Spear who nailed the triple. Wake Forest led 20-17 after the first quarter of play. 

“Tonight, we needed to get better on the defensive end of the floor,” head coach Megan Gebbia said. “We have to find a way to communicate better and play connected as a unit. Overall, we are better than what we have shown the last few games, and we have to get better before postseason.”

To begin the second quarter, the Demon Deacons found themselves once again on the wrong end of a scoring run, this time a 9-0 run. With Wake Forest trailing by six, Summiel nailed another 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to just three. Wake Forest’s zone defense continued to fall apart as North Carolina found easy shots in the paint. The Demon Deacons finally got going with a 7-0 scoring run to take a 32-30 lead with two minutes remaining in the first half. The Tar Heels finished the half with all of the momentum going on a 10-4 scoring run to lead 40-36 going into the locker room. 

As has been the theme this season, once a team went on a run, Wake Forest had a hard time responding. North Carolina went on a 6-0 run to start out the second half, extending its lead to 10. The Tar Heels were able to capitalize on the Demon Deacons’ weak interior defense and convert easy baskets at the rim. Spear ended Wake Forest’s scoring drought with a nice finish at the basket. Both teams traded baskets, but Summiel hit another 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to cut their deficit to just six. North Carolina continued to capitalize on Wake Forest’s turnovers and scored five unanswered to end the third quarter. The Tar Heels led 56-42 heading into the final frame. 

North Carolina continued to attack the paint and expose Wake Forest’s weak interior defense as it put together an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter. Down 20, the Demon Deacons did not give up hope, as they went on their own 8-2 scoring run to cut the deficit down to 14. Spear canned two triples on this scoring run and kept her team in it. Unfortunately, with time winding down, Wake Forest was unable to cut into North Carolina’s lead down the stretch and suffered a 71-58 defeat. 

The Demon Deacons return home to take on No. 24 Florida State Thursday night at 6 p.m.