UNC women's basketball unable to continue strong start in loss to Virginia

The UNC women's basketball program suffered a very disappointing road loss to Virginia on Sunday afternoon.

Phil Knight Invitational - Women's Championship: North Carolina v Iowa State
Phil Knight Invitational - Women's Championship: North Carolina v Iowa State / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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A strong first quarter was followed by three rather disappointing ones, as the No. 20-ranked UNC women's basketball program suffered a loss to Virginia on Sunday afternoon.

446. Final. 66. 441. UNC UVA. 81

Just a few weeks ago, the Tar Heels defeated the Cavaliers at Carmichael Arena, but it's important to note that Virginia was tied with North Carolina heading into the fourth quarter of the first matchup between these two teams.

In the rematch, the Tar Heels earned an early lead (very similar to the first meeting) but couldn't hold onto it this time around.

Leading 25-16 after one quarter, you had to feel good about where the Tar Heels were heading. Freshman Reniya Kelly had 9 first quarter points while Alyssa Ustby (seven) and Lexi Donarski (five) helped carry the early scoring load.

From that point on, North Carolina's offense essentially went cold.

Virginia outscored the Tar Heels 21-9 in the second quarter, and outscored them once again by the same output over the final 10 minutes of action to pull away for good.

Contrary to what this team has done leading up to this point, the Tar Heels had some major defensive issues on Sunday afternoon. The Cavaliers knocked down a staggering 57.9% of their three-point field goal attempts, and went to the line 28 times (compared to the Tar Heels' 19 free throw attempts).

Other than the aforementioned Reniya Kelly, the Tar Heels just couldn't get in a rhythm offensively.

Kelly finished with a career high 18 points, and Ustby ended the afternoon with 13 points and eight rebounds of her own. After five early points, Lexi Donarski was essentially a non-factor offensively, while Deja Kelly struggled with a 2-13 performance from the field.

With a tough stretch of games coming up, a performance like this is certainly disappointing for the UNC women's basketball program. The injuries to Kayla McPherson and Paulina Paris are starting to hurt as well, as the Tar Heels could really use another ball handling guard to use in a reserve role.

It's a tough loss against a team that had a lot of motivation, especially on their home court. We'll have to wait and see how the Tar Heels respond from this one as they take on NC State on Thursday night.

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