ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Stephanie Watts scored 24 points and the North Carolina women handed No. 17 South Florida its second straight loss at the Paradise Jam, 71-69 on Friday.
The Tar Heels backed up a Thanksgiving Day beat down of UCLA, 83-49 in the opener, and avenged a stinging loss to South Florida the 2016 Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, 83-55. Watts is one of four members of the UNC rotation to have played in that loss.
Shayla Bennett hit a jumper with 5:36 remaining to give UNC a 12-point lead, 67-55, but Beatriz Jordao scored at the basket, on a jumper and from the free-throw line to help the Bulls eat into that deficit. Sydni Harvey's layup with 1:11 left cut it to five, 70-65, and Elisa Pinzan hit from deep to make it 71-68 with :09 left. Laura Ferreira added a free throw but the Tar Heels forced a turnover on the Bulls' final possession.
Watts hit 9 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 8 from beyond the arc. Paris Kea and Janelle Bailey each added 14 points.
South Florida, which lost to Kentucky 85-63, got 22 points from Ferreira and 18 more from Jordao. Harvey added 17 points.
UNC faces Kentucky on Saturday while South Florida plays UCLA.