CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Freshman Kayla McPherson came off the bench to score 14 points and No. 11 North Carolina cruised to a 73-62 victory over Virginia on Thursday night.
McPherson has played just two games in the last 800 days. She had a knee injury that sidelined her for her senior year of high school and a different lower-body injury that kept her out of the Tar Heels’ first 20 games this season. It didn’t show against Virginia.
McPherson, who had eight points in North Carolina’s 69-58 road win over Clemson on Sunday, connected on 6 of 10 shots with two 3-pointers and added four assists for the Tar Heels (17-5, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won eight straight conference games after a three-game skid to open ACC play.
Deja Kelly finished with 13 points and five rebounds for North Carolina. Alyssa Ustby had 12 points and Anya Poole and Kennedy Todd-Williams both scored 11. Poole grabbed eight rebounds.
London Clarkson scored 23 points off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (14-9, 3-9), who have lost five straight. Clarkson made 8 of 13 shots and 7 of 8 free throws. Mckenna Dale had 15 points and nine rebounds, while Camryn Taylor scored 10.
North Carolina managed just three free throws through the first six minutes and trailed by a point. Poole hit a jumper at the 3:17 mark and McPherson made two baskets in the final 94 seconds to give the Tar Heels a 9-8 lead after one quarter.
The Tar Heels used a 7-0 run, capped by Ustby’s three-point play, to push their lead to 21-11 with 5:56 left before halftime. Ustby and McPherson each finished with five points in the quarter as North Carolina stretched its lead to 33-21 at halftime. Poole and McPherson combined to score 17 at intermission. The Tar Heels, who missed their first six shots and shot 30% in the first quarter, sank 9 of 12 attempts in the second.
North Carolina beat Virginia for a seventh straight time and for the 27th time in the last 30 games.
Virginia has lost 15 straight ACC road games and hasn’t beaten a ranked team since 2017.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels travel to play Louisville on Sunday.
Virginia: The Cavaliers travel to play Pittsburgh on Sunday.