BIMINI, Bahamas – A back-and-forth women’s basketball game between the Gophers and North Carolina appeared to be going in the Gophers’ favor after Carlie Wagner’s three-pointer gave them a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
But the Gophers went cold from there, and they ended up dropping their second game in as many days at the Junkanoo Jam.
Paris Kea scored a career-high 31 points, Stephanie Watts added 21 and the Tar Heels finished the game on a 24-7 run to beat the Gophers 91-79 on Friday night.
“The biggest takeaway is staying locked in for the entire 40 minutes,” Gophers coach Marlene Stollings told the team’s radio broadcast after the game. “Because literally, a minute and a half stretch there cost us the game late.”
Freshman Gadiva Hubbard scored 21 points to lead the Gophers (4-2), including two 6-0 runs in the second half by herself. Wagner added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Kenisha Bell scored 10 points.
“She was hot and going to the basket hard and was finishing through contact,” Stollings said of Hubbard. “… We were riding her during that stretch.”
For the second game in a row in the Bahamas, the Gophers went through a scoreless fourth-quarter stretch with the game on the line; they lost to Georgia 70-58 on Thursday in similar fashion.
This time, in a game that featured 18 lead changes, Wagner’s three gave the Gophers a 72-67 lead with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining vs. the Tar Heels. But the Gophers fell apart from there.
Kea gave the Tar Heels the lead at 74-72, and Watts following with a three-pointer that forced Stollings to call a timeout. But North Carolina’s run continued: Destinee Walker followed with a long two-pointer from the corner, and Bell’s bad pass led to Walker getting an easy layup for a 14-0 run.
The Tar Heels (5-1), who lost 83-55 to South Florida on Thursday, closed out the game by going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
“You hate having to learn after a loss. We’d much rather have to learn after a win,” Stollings said. “… We reacted to something bad happening — you can’t do that when you’re playing the level of competiton we’re playing.”