Start Late to Beat Oklahoma:Senior in UNC WBB Fight Illness

Following Tuesday’s 61-52 victory over Oklahoma, North Carolina held a post-game press conference, but Deja Kelly was not present.

She suffered from a stomach ailment for three days, which caused her to throw up during and after the team’s Jumpman Invitational match, which started over 30 minutes later than expected and ended at midnight.Officially starting at 10:06 p.m., Alyssa Ustby said she had never played a game that started as late as Tuesday’s. However, Kelly and she still had enough left to help outlast the Sooners.

Courtney Banghart remarked, “That’s a good way to start, Deja and Alyssa.” “After the loss to UConn, there was a lot of talk about how our best players needed to perform really well, and they did just that.”

The starting seniors for the Tar Heels led them offensively the entire evening. Kelly scored 21 points on 7–14 shooting to surpass the 1,500 point milestone in her career. She pulled down six rebounds as well. In the victory, Ustby recorded a double-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks. UNC had 36 points at the half, with 31 coming from Kelly and Ustby combined.

“Deja was throwing up during timeouts, and Ashley played really, really well on both ends,” Banghart remarked. “And now she’s throwing up.” And so it was quite amazing what she managed to accomplish tonight despite being extremely ill.
Oklahoma was able to get into transition quickly because North Carolina coughed up the ball six times in the first quarter, which was a sign of trouble for them. The Tar Heels were able to narrow the deficit and tie the game by halftime thanks to UNC’s improved ball control, which restricted the Sooners’ opportunities.

With a 12-0 run to start the second half, UNC held Oklahoma to just six points during that time.

“Reminding each other what our scout is about was, I think, the turning point,” Ustby said. “Just getting the looks we want, locking into personnel, and communicating on offence and defence.”

Kelly assured Banghart on Monday that she would participate in the Jumpman Invitational, having scored 20 points or more for the third time this season. Before then, Banghart hadn’t even laid eyes on Kelly, but the senior guard continued as usual.

Start Late to Beat Oklahoma:Senior in UNC WBB Fight Illness

Banghart remarked, “This is her Michael Jordan game.”

Ustby went on, “Deja is a canine. That girl knows how much she contributes to our team and will stop at nothing to help her teammates.

After graduating from high school in 2020, Ustby and Kelly joined UNC, and each year since then, their chemistry on the court has only grown stronger. During a game, both players can pick up on cues from one another about where to be and where to pass the ball.

When Kelly was questioned by Ustby about their relationship, Banghart reached out with her left hand to compliment him while also ensuring that the Rochester forward understood her own move. When they first became teammates, Kelly wanted Ustby to see what she could do as well, but Ustby occasionally looked up to her.

Banghart turned to face Ustby and remarked, “I think Deja’s just really made sure Alyssa knows this success is in large part because of you.” “Alyssa, I believe that you are growing in understanding that this is also your team. And Alyssa is demonstrating that to you. Much more talkative and highly amenable to coaching.

The Tar Heels improved to 8-4 on the season in the second half of Tuesday’s game as other players started to chip in with the scoring. North Carolina’s non-conference schedule is now complete. On New Year’s Eve, the team will host Clemson at Carmichael Arena.

Kelly and Ustby will spearhead this year’s UNC team’s offensive in league play, in line with the previous few seasons and Tuesday night’s late tip.

Watching them truly support one another has been enjoyable, according to Banghart. “I believe Deja is demonstrating to Ustby that they are on an equal footing with us.”

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