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Women’s basketball: North Carolina holds off Gophers in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Freshman Rose Michaeux scored a career-high 23 for the Gophers.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota turned a 10-point halftime deficit into a brief lead late in the third quarter, but North Carolina used a half-court 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to start a run 9-0 that kept the Gophers at arm’s length in a 82-76 victory in a ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Williams Arena.

Deja Winters’ three-point play pulled Minnesota to within 75-71 with 1:12 remaining, but Kennedy Todd-Williams answered with a layup and free for a 78-71 lead with 51 seconds left and the Gophers were never able to catch up.

Freshman Rose Micheaux helped keep Minnesota close throughout the second half with her inside presence and finished with a career-high 28 points, shooting 8 for 10 from the field and 7 for 8 from the free throw line.

Alyssa Ustby led five Tar Heels in double figures with 19 points, and Deja Kelly and Carrie Littlefield added 15 and 15 points apiece as North Carolina remained undefeated (8-0).

Deja Winters scored 17 points, and Gadiva Hubbard added 14 for the Gophers, who fell to 6-4 play. The Gophers begin the Big Ten season Monday against Nebraska at Williams Arena.

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The Gophers’ offense was sharp early. The team had six assists on seven first-quarter baskets and was tied 17-17 going into the second quarter. But things soon began unraveling.

After struggling from the field early, North Carolina started hitting its open shots and pulled away quickly, leading 24-19 after a 3-pointer by Alyssa Ustby at 8:12. The Gopher stayed close with some points in the paint — six from Sissoko and an open layup by Alanna Micheaux on a nice pass from Powell — and cut the Tar Heels’ lead to 27-25, but that was the end of the Gophers’ inside game for the half.

North Carolina answered with a 12-4 run that included two driving layups by guard Littlefield and a putback by Kelly. The Gophers meanwhile were chucking 3-pointers, most of them well off the mark. Their only points late came from a Sissoko jump shot and two free throws by Michaeaux. By intermission, Minnesota had taken 19 3-point shots and made just three (15.8 percent).

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