UNC Women's Basketball defeats Oklahoma in 2023 Jumpman Invitational

The duo of Deja Kelly and Alyssa Ustby led the way as the UNC women's basketball program defeated Oklahoma in the 2023 Jumpman Invitational.
2023 Invesco QQQ Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Showcase - Connecticut v North Carolina
2023 Invesco QQQ Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Showcase - Connecticut v North Carolina / G Fiume/GettyImages

After the start of the UNC women's basketball game was delayed due to the first game of the Jumpman Invitational (between the Florida and Michigan men's teams) going into double-overtime, the Tar Heels got off to a delayed start of their own.

In fact, the Oklahoma Sooners scored the first eight points and 10 of the first 12, as they controlled the fast-paced tempo and looked to have a clear upper-hand in this game.

However, the duo of Deja Kelly and Alyssa Ustby had other plans.

464. Final. 61. 838. UNCWBB vs OK. 52

Trailing by seven after one quarter of play, the UNC women's basketball program, led by strong first half performances from its senior captains, took control of the contest from that point on.

Kelly, who has battled a stomach bug over the last few days, was brilliant, scoring 18 first-half points. With those 18 points, Kelly became the 25th UNC women's basketball player to score 1,500 points in her career, as she finished the game with a game-high 21 points.

Ustby, who continues to provide high energy and effort, also made some key buckets, as she finished the half with 12 points. She finished the night with 15 points and 11 rebounds, as she now has five double-doubles this season and 27 over her UNC women's basketball career.

Heading into the locker room, the senior duo tallied 31 of the Tar Heels' 36 points, as the rest of the team struggled to get anything going offensively.

After a tremendously hot start, the Sooners, who are known for being a very good shooting team, couldn't put the ball in the basket.

Oklahoma started the scoring with a three-point field goal from Lexy Keys, and from that point on went on to miss 25 straight three-point attempts. The struggles offensively got worse as the game went on, as the Sooners were only able to muster up 4 total points in the third quarter, going scoreless over the first six and a half minutes of the second half.

Although Kelly and Ustby carried the load offensively in the first half, they got some much-needed help over the second half of play.

Lexi Donarski got going offensively, finishing the night with 10 points to go along with five rebounds. Paulina Paris, who was playing in her second game off of injury, put together some timely buckets to finish with seven points of her own.

Although her four points won't necessarily stand out, Alexandra Zelaya provided some big quality minutes off the bench. With Maria Gakdeng and Anya Poole both in foul trouble, Zelaya served as a nice spark, playing quality defense while hauling in six total rebounds.

In a game that featured a lot of fouls and turnovers, you have to be encouraged with the way the UNC women's basketball program was able to battle back and find a way to somewhat distance themselves over the final 20 minutes of play. Of course, Courtney Banghart and her staff won't be pleased with the 20+ turnover outing, but there are plenty of positives to take from this much-needed victory.

The UNC women's basketball has a nice long holiday break coming up, as they aren't scheduled to return to action until December 31. On the last day of the 2023 calendar year, the Tar Heels will host Clemson as ACC play gets underway.

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