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Recap: No. 3 Louisville’s last-second shot to win just misses, No. 24 UNC secures huge victory

Chelsie Hall missed a difficult, awkward shot while falling away at the buzzer and the UNC Tar Heels held on to defeat the Louisville Cardinals. Kennedy Todd-Williams and Deja Kelly both scored in the high teens and were so clutch for the winners.

NCAA Womens Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse
Kennedy Todd-Williams led UNC in scoring and made the game-winning free throws and game-saving close out.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 24 UNC Tar Heels watched as the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals’ final shot lingered on the back of the rim for nearly a full second before falling to the left of the basket at the buzzer, giving UNC the upset win, 66-65, Thursday night at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Louisville’s Kianna Smith missed a deep three with three seconds left and Chelsie Hall pulled down the rebound with nobody in front of her. But as she came down with the ball, Hall started to fall backwards and had to awkwardly fling it up toward the basket. That was the last opportunity the Cards got.

A 7-0 Tar Heel run from 5:55 in the fourth to 4:19 in the fourth featuring five points from Kennedy Todd-Williams gave UNC a one-point lead. Louisville’s Emily Engstler then made 1-of-2 free throws at 4:07 remaining to tie the game at 59. Engstler and UNC’s Eva Hodgson then exchanged jumpers, leaving the score tied at 61 with 2:47 to play.

Deja Kelly went 1-of-2 at the line with 2:27 remaining to put the Heels back up by one, but Olivia Cochran’s perfect trip to the stripe at 45 seconds left turned things in favor of the Cards by one.

A Kelly jumper with 23 second to go was quickly followed by a Hailey Van Lith layup two seconds later that gave Louisville a 65-64 lead. But Todd-Williams would have the final say with two free throws at 16 seconds remaining.

On Louisville’s final possession, leading scorer Van Lith dribbled to the left, her dominant side, all the way to the corner, then passed to Mykasa Robinson, a defensive specialist who isn’t much of a threat to shoot, at the top of the key. Robinson then found K. Smith on the right wing. Todd-Williams was able to get a hand up to contest K. Smith’s three.

The largest lead of the game was Louisville by 10 three times in the second quarter.

Todd-Williams led UNC with 19 points to go along with five rebounds, while Kelly added 18 points and three steals. Alyssa Ustby (nine points, nine rebounds) and Carlie Littlefield (eight points, seven boards, three assists) also put forth solid efforts for the winners. Hodgson added a team-high four helpers and Anya Poole grabbed a team-high four steals.

K. Smith finished with an impressive nine assists (game high) to go along with her seven points and three steals, while Van Lith (two steals) paced the Cards in scoring with 17 points. Cochran (14 points, five rebounds, two steals, two blocks) and Engstler (11 points, eight boards, four rejections) joined Van Lith in double figures.

Cochran was 5-of-6 from the field, while Hall (six points) was 2-of-2 from downtown. Kelly was 2-of-5 from distance.

Things held true to form with the Cards outshooting the Heels comfortably from the field (44.1 percent to 37.7 percent), but making eight less free throws with seven.

UNC outrebounded Louisville 42-32 (13-5 offensive) and won second chance points 9-3.

The Heels close their regular season out with Florida State, Virginia and Duke, while the Cards face No. 23 Virginia Tech, Pitt and No. 19 Notre Dame.