CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – While it was the first time they faced on another, by the time the North Carolina Tar Heels and New Hampshire Wildcats were finished, the ending to their encounter was a memorable one.
Guard Jamie Cherry’s 20-point effort helped to lead the Tar Heels (9-5) to a 65-60 victory over opposing guard Elizabeth Belanger’s Wildcats at Carmichael Arena on Tuesday.
However, Belanger’s game-high 28 points contributed to an exceptional effort that had North Carolina’s shoulders pinned to the floor, but not firmly enough to earn New Hampshire (6-6) the win.
With a 91-percent free throw shooting percentage, the Wildcats’ leading scorer went 14-for-16 from the line as five of seven Tar Heels were whistled with four fouls.
Destinee Walker (17 points, 6 rebounds) only fouled twice while Stephanie Watts (11 points, 4 rebounds) eventually fouled out, and N’Dea Bryant (6 points, 9 rebounds), Xylina McDaniel (4 points, 7 rebounds), and Erika Johnson (3 points, 4 rebounds)all joined Cherry with four.
It was a typical game of runs that takes place on UNC’s floor.
After Belanger opened the game’s scoring along with the Wildcats’ Carlie Pogue (10 points, 3 rebounds), Walker ignited an 18-0 North Carolina run that extended into the opening minute of the second quarter.
From there, the fight was on and the Tar Heels held the upper hand, leading 34-23 at halftime.
However, fouls, turnovers, and missed shots allowed the Wildcats to take control.
A 26-6 run between the third and fourth quarters pulled New Hampshire from a 47-34 deficit to a three-point lead, 56-53, with 6:24 to play.
Belanger and Pogue did considerable damage before the Tar Heels, led by Walker and Watts, mounted the critical pushback that made the difference.
UNH went scoreless for five minutes while UNC posted a 10-0 run that included retaking the lead, 58-56, on Walker’s jumper with 3:01 to play.
Though Belanger scored back-to-back baskets in the final minute to pull within three points, Cherry’s free throws finalized the win for the Tar Heels, and pulled them up from the grasp of the visiting Wildcats.