UNC Women's Basketball claims first place in ACC with win over Louisville

The UNC women's basketball program took care of No. 13-ranked Louisville to take over first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Clemson v North Carolina
Clemson v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

The UNC women's basketball program knew they had a tough challenge ahead, and were more than ready to defend their home court on Sunday afternoon.

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Behind contributions from each of the eight Tar Heels who saw game action, the UNC women's basketball program defeated No. 13-ranked Louisville to take over first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. The loss was the first that the Cardinals have suffered in conference play thus far this season.

The early story was Lexi Donarski, who was struggling shooting the basketball coming into this one. You wouldn't know it based off her scorching hot start, as she scored each of the Tar Heels first 10 points before being forced to the bench due to foul trouble.

Given Donarski's tremendous start, it was concerning seeing her have to go to the bench, but from that point on, it was a collective effort to get the job done.

Deja Kelly was once again lethal at the free throw line, knocking down a career-high 14 out of 16 attempts, as she led all scorers with 23 points, Donarski added a clutch three in the fourth quarter to finish with 13 points, while Alyssa Ustby, who recorded seven blocks (the most by a UNC women's basketball player since 2015), put together another double-double performance.

Along with the "big three," Indya Nivar provided some great minutes off the bench, as she scored 10 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Reniya Kelly (9 points) and Maria Gakdeng (eight points) also helped pace the scoring effort.

The game went into the half tied, but from there, it was all North Carolina. The Tar Heels put together a 15-2 run to end the third quarter, pushing their lead to 11, one that was too much for Louisville to overcome.

Even as the Cardinals made a push, self-inflicted wounds came back to hurt them. Crucial missed free throws late in the fourth quarter (which is uncharacteristic for this very good free throw shooting team) helped the Tar Heels hold on to a huge victory that propels them to the top of the division standings.

To beat great teams, you need to put together a great team effort, and that's exactly what the UNC women's basketball program did on Sunday afternoon. North Carolina was ready for a battle, and made a statement by knocking off one of the conference's best squads.

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