UNC Women's Basketball set to host Western Carolina

The UNC women's basketball program is back in action on Friday night, as they'll host Western Carolina in another non-conference tilt.
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

Following a loss to UConn in the Hall of Fame Women's Showcase, a few days off came at a very good time for Courtney Banghart and the UNC women's basketball program.

Not only has Teonni Key missed the first 10 games of the season, but Kayla McPherson and Paulina Paris have also been sidelined over the last few games due to injury. To add to that, freshman Reniya Kelly suffered a concussion against the Huskies, leaving her status uncertain.

Needless to say, the Tar Heels are a little banged up!

Nonetheless, the available players will take on Western Carolina on Friday night at Carmichael Arena, as this will be the second-to-last non-conference game before conference play kicks off in full-swing on December 31.

2472. 6-4. . 7:00 PM EST. 2-8. ACCNX. Friday, December 15. UNCWBB vs. Western Carolina. 441

At this point, who is available may be a question mark, but the goal remains the same: take care of the opponent in front of you.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

The UNC women's basketball program needs to take advantage of their size, especially with the duo of Maria Gakdeng and Alyssa Ustby.

Gakdeng has been an absolute force in the paint, as she's put up some big-time performances over the Tar Heels last four games. She had a 22-point, 9-rebound outing against FGCU, nearly had a double-double against No. 1 South Carolina and had a 14-point, 13-rebound performance in the team's most recent contest against UConn.

The Tar Heels have struggled shooting the basketball, but forcing teams to focus on the post might open up more opportunities for quality shots, especially from three-point range.

Deja Kelly is a true scorer. the duo of Gakdeng and Ustby have done their part while Lexi Donarski has shown flashes, but can anyone else step up to help carry the scoring load?

Something to Watch For

Who will be available for the UNC women's basketball program on Friday night?

That seems to be the million dollar question of late.

We mentioned a few of the injured players earlier, not even touching on the fact that Deja Kelly has also been banged up. Will the roster be closer to full health, or will this be another game that Courtney Banghart's team will be drastically shorthanded?

Projected Starters

No. 1 Alyssa Ustby (Sr. 6-1) 11.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.2 apg

No. 5 Maria Gakdeng (Jr. 6-3) 10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.3 apg

No. 20 Lexi Donarski (Gr. 6-0) 10.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.2 apg

No. 24 Indya Nivar (So. 5-10) 6.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.0 apg

No. 25 Deja Kelly (Sr. 5-8) 16.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.6 apg