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Fantastic 4 lights fire for UNC in thriller

What initially looked like an easy win for North Carolina, ended up a nail-biter as the Tar Heels won the game 71-67. While UNC thought the game might have been over, the Hokies made a run to make them sweat.

Maggie Engellenner - Swish Appeal

CHAPEL HILL, NC -- The visiting 15-8 Virginia Tech Hokies took the court in Carmichael Arena, ready to face the 13-12 Tar Heels. Both teams entered the contest looking to improve their respective records -- the two teams were tied in ACC play with three wins and seven losses. However, in the end, the Tar Heels came out on top to improve their ACC record to 4-7, tied with Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

The Hokies won the tip, but the first two points of the game were scored by Jamie Cherry off of two free throws. For the first few minutes of the first quarter, the Heels and Hokies were neck-and-neck, but halfway through the quarter, North Carolina began to pull away.

Virginia Tech was rushing their shots, and as a result, they were having trouble scoring a basket. The Tar Heels, however, were not missing. Destinee Walker was shooting 100 percent, and Jamie Cherry was leading the Heels with 9 points. At the end of the first quarter, the Heels led the Hokies 23-10.

Jamie Cherry recognized that she and the Heels had a good start. "We did a great job of jumping out at the beginning.... And we stayed poised down the stretch," she said.

In the second quarter, the Tar Heels continued to pull ahead. Cherry led the Tar Heel with 12 points; Walker had 10, and Hillary Summers added her own seven points. The highlight of the half was, perhaps, a long-range, three-point shot that Walker nailed in the face of her defender from almost five feet behind the line.

As for Virginia Tech, the sixth-man, Vanessa Panousis, led the Hokies with six points, followed by Hannah Young, who added her own five. The Hokies' Head Coach Dennis Wolf looked frustrated with her team's performance on the court, which resulted in a ten-man rotation in the first half, while UNC - in typical fashion - stuck with their six-man rotation.

The Hokies came out of the locker room for the second half with a newfound energy, and they began to slowly close the gap. The Hokies' Vanessa Panousis had 14-point by the end of the third, and Hannah Young had her own eleven.

The Tar Heels were now being led by Stephanie Watts, who had an impressive third quarter scoring nine points, bringing her to an overall 16 points scored. Walker followed closely behind with 15, and Cherry improved to 12 points. Cherry was also leading the Heels with four assists.

In the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech began to find their rhythm, and Young scored a three-point shot, which prompted a Heels' timeout. With 2:36 left in the game, Hannah Young and the Hokies had closed the lead to just five points, with a score of sixty-four to thirty-nine.

Virginia Tech's Chanette Hicks, with 1:26 left in the game, made a layup to close the Tar Heel lead to three. Just six seconds later Cherry went down after a hard foul, and the arena went silent, but she recovered and after a few seconds was able to get up off the floor.

With both teams in the bonus, the last minute of the game was filled with both teams shooting free throws. With roughly thirty seconds left in the game, the Heels were up 66-65 and had the ball. The Hokies fouled Erika Johnson immediately, who made both free throws and secured the Heels a three-point lead.

With 12.5 seconds left in the game, and after a long dispute about possession, the Hokies had the ball. Virginia Tech put the ball in hands of Young, who didn't disappoint and scored a two-point basket, returning the Tar Heels lead to one point with a score of 68-67 and seven seconds left in the game.

Soon after, Hillary Summers was fouled, and she made both of her free throws returning North Carolina's lead to three points.The Tar Heels quickly regained possession after the Hokies turned the ball over. With 1.5 seconds left in the game, Jamie Cherry was at the line. She missed her first free throw, but made the second to secure a four-point lead to end the contest.

Hannah Young showcased tremendous effort to lead her team to an impressive comeback, but despite scoring 22 points, Young and the Hokies came up just short. The early dominant scorer, Panousis, finished the contest with 14 points, followed by Hicks with 8, and Regan Magarity, who added her own seven.

"I'm proud of these guys and the other ones in the locker room because Virginia Tech is a very good team," said Tar Heels Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell. "They (Virginia Tech) have some excellent players and some excellent shooters."

Hatchell also noted that the Hokies' defense is rated fifth in the country, and was impressed with the way her team remained resilient throughout the entire contest.

The game started and ended with free throws from Jamie Cherry, and the Tar Heels finished the contest with four of their six players to touch the court in double-digits. Stephanie Watts, Destinee Walker, and Jamie Cherry led the Heels with 18, 17 and 15 points, respectively. Hillary Summers was the only player in the contest to secure a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.