The No. 4-seeded North Carolina has a section of fans that are in Tucson to cheer on the Tar Heels and they were heard by the team in the first round game against No. 13 Stephen F. Austin.
North Carolina won the game 79-66, setting up a game against Arizona in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Monday.
“It’s so great to see our fans follow us all the way to the other side of the country,” North Carolina guard Deja Kelly said. “Just to know that we have that much support is so amazing. It’s so great to look up and see all that blue in the stands, and knowing that they’re rooting for us and they flew all the way out here just to see us play and see us win some games is exciting.”
The Tar Heels fought through a 10-point deficit in the second quarter to come away with the decisive 13-point win.
They have no preference on who they would rather face in the second round but feel that no matter who they play, they will be ready.
“That’ll just be us watching film, watching scout,” Kelly said when asked if she is familiar with either UNLV or Arizona. “We’ll sit and watch this game (between the Lady Rebels and Wildcats). We don’t know too much about them but it’s good to play someone other than ACC teams since December, so we’re excited for that.
“We’re excited for the challenge and for the matchup for whoever we play.”
Whatever the opponent, it will need plenty of defense to stop a heavy list of guards that are all capable of scoring.
Leading the Tar Heels in points was Kelly with 28 points. She was instrumental in helping the North Carolina offense rev up in the third and fourth quarters.
“.When I get the ball inside, I’m looking out for open shooters because that was today’s game was finding open shooters,” North Carolina guard Alyssa Utsby said on how important it is to get the ball to Kelly. “And when I pass, she’s consistently shown me to do that. I just know as I pass it to her, I’m looking and I’m ready to box out just in case she misses, but she doesn’t miss often.”
Kelly also had five rebounds and four assists.
Sophomore guard Kennedy Todd-Williams finished with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. She also had five rebounds and two assists.
Guards Carlie Littlefield and Alyssa Utsby both had 13 points. Ustby added eight rebounds while Littlefield had nine with assists.
Littlefield’s father Chris is a graduate of Arizona. He was among North Carolina’s section of fans behind the bench.