CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –Freshman Alyssa Ustby had season-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds to help North Carolina upset fourth-ranked rival North Carolina State 76-69 on Sunday.
Stephanie Watts added 17 points for the Tar Heels (9-8, 4-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), who hit a season-high 11 3-pointers and led by as many as a dozen after halftime.
UNC had won just one game since shortly before Christmas, yet responded with a huge performance to upend a top-10 Wolfpack team for the third consecutive season.
Ustby went 4 for 4 from behind the arc to lead the Tar Heels’ outside shooting.
Elissa Cunane scored 14 points to lead the Wolfpack (12-2, 7-2), who shot the ball poorly until well into the third quarter as UNC gained confidence by hitting from outside early. N.C. State regrouped with a 13-0 run to get back in it and lead 52-49 entering the final quarter.
But the Tar Heels responded with their own push to go ahead for good, starting with freshman Kennedy Todd-Williams’ 3-pointer near the 9-minute mark.
UNC went on to hit 5 of 7 3s in that final period, including Ustby feeding Watts for one that made it 69-62 with 2:11 left. N.C. State got no closer than four the rest of the way.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack’s 74-60 win against top-ranked Louisville on Monday followed a 54-46 win at then-No. 1 South Carolina on Dec. 3. That made N.C. State just the third Division I women’s team in the last 20 seasons to have two wins against a No. 1-ranked team in the same season – and the only one to earn both on the road. And it gave N.C. State at least a claim to the top spot in Monday’s next poll. Yet the Wolfpack stumbled once again against the rival Tar Heels.
UNC: The Tar Heels had managed just one win against Notre Dame since beating Wake Forest on Dec. 20. That stretch included six losses as well as one cancellation in what has been a difficult second year for coach Courtney Banghart. But for the second straight year, her team claimed a big rivalry win on their homecourt in the first meeting of the year.
N.C. State: Clemson visits the Wolfpack on Thursday.
UNC: The Tar Heels’ game at Boston College for Thursday has been postponed, meaning UNC’s next scheduled game comes next Sunday at Pittsburgh.