Do-it-all Paris Kea fed Hillary Fuller for a layup that gave North Carolina a two-point lead over Wake Forest with 57 seconds left in Carmichael Arena on Thursday.
The Tar Heels couldn’t finish it.
The Demon Deacons won 80-77.
Wake Forest’s Milan Quinn could have tied the score with two free-throw attempts with 34 seconds to go. She missed both of them, and the Demon Deacons blew several field-goal attempts before Alex Sharp hit a baseline 3-pointer near her team’s bench with 17 seconds left.
That area kept opening off and on during the fourth period.
“We weren’t switching,” UNC sophomore Stephanie Watts said.
One of UNC’s freshmen didn’t rotate to defend open shooters, UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
“Game experience. Things they’ve got to learn to do,” Hatchell said.
Eight of UNC’s 13 players are freshmen.
Neither of these squads have been doing all that much damage in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
Wake Forest (11-7, 2-3 ACC) and UNC (12-7, 1-5) are just trying to get to .500 in the league.
The Tar Heels led all but 26 seconds of the first half.
Wake Forest went up 63-62 on Elisa Penna’s baseline 3-pointer with 7:09 left in the fourth period.
There was a bunch of basket trading. The Tar Heels could have padded a cushion for themselves, but they kept leaving open the baseline near Wake Forest’s bench. The Demon Deacons kept scoring from there.
It was a 72-72 game with 3:22 to go.
Watts (25 points, 9 rebounds) gave UNC a three-point lead with a 3 with 3:11 remaining.
Ariel Stephenson matched that with 2:16 on the clock.
Penna led Wake Forest with 23 points.
Kea had 21 points.
Hatchell had to work without Destinee Walker’s 12.2 points per game. Walker was on the bench nursing a nagging knee.
The Demon Deacons preached to the Tar Heels about the virtues of working the backboards. Wake Forest had a 42-32 rebounding margin. Quinn grabbed 16 of them.
Rebounding killed the Tar Heels during that last exchange underneath Wake Forest’s basket, Hatchell said.
“They got five in a row,” Hatchell said.