CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina — Much of North Carolina's offense relies on Stephanie Mavunga's ability to score in the paint. That's why Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw had her No. 7 Fighting Irish expend a lot of energy slowing the sophomore.
Mavunga finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, though she shot just 5-for-15 while facing double teams for much of the night in the No. 12 Tar Heels' 89-79 loss Thursday night.
"She's such an exceptional player," McGraw said. "She is a force inside. Our gameplan really revolved around her."
Mavunga came into the game shooting 51 percent, but with the 6-foot-3 freshman Brianna Turner there to match up, she missed several shots inside and never showed her normal, effective play.
"I don't necessarily think their defense flustered me as much as I flustered myself really," Mavunga said. "I feel like I missed a lot of shots that I really should've made and shots I usually make.
"I really think that it wasn't so much the double teams because I saw the double teams coming, so that's when I'd find my teammates and get the assists I did get."
For Notre Dame, Turner had 29 points, a season-high 18 rebounds and seven blocks. The points and blocks tied her season high.
Notre Dame (16-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 63 percent after halftime on a night when it rallied from 11 down in the first half then blew nearly all of a 14-point lead in the second before holding off the Tar Heels (15-3, 2-2).
Sophomore Lindsay Allen added a career-best 24 points, helping Notre Dame overcome a quiet game from leading scorer Jewell Loyd. She came in averaging 21.5 points but finished with just eight on 4-for-11 shooting.
The Tar Heels rallied to within 78-77 on Mavunga's 3-pointer with 4:29 left, but Allen immediately scored in the paint to start a clinching 9-0 run.
Michaela Mabrey knocked down a critical 3-pointer from in front of the Notre Dame bench with 2:41 left during the run.
Allisha Gray scored 20 points for North Carolina, which shot just 37 percent.
Notre Dame: Allen finished 9-for-12 from the field to go with a career-best nine assists. ... Sophomore forward Taya Reimer returned after missing two games due to personal reasons. She had four points and seven rebounds off the bench. ... Notre Dame had a 46-38 rebounding advantage.
UNC: The Tar Heels had a 16-8 edge on the glass by the 7½-minute mark, only to see the Irish dominate from there. ... The Tar Heels hit nine 3s. ... Gray was sidelined for much of the first half with an injury to her right calf.
Irked by the officiating during the second half, Hatchell nearly drew a technical foul during a screaming tirade during a timeout with about 8Â½ minutes left. The Hall of Fame coach had to be pulled back toward the huddle by her staff, then ripped off her jacket and threw it down on the bench.
If it was a motivational ploy, it worked. Down nine at the time, her team responded with its run to get back in the game.
LOYD'S QUIET NIGHT
Loyd had scored in double figures for 60 straight games before Thursday. McGraw said Loyd was sick and spent much of the afternoon in bed and had "quite a bit of cold medicine in her right now."
"But I thought she still gave a great effort," McGraw said.
Notre Dame hosts No. 6 Tennessee on Monday.
UNC travels to Clemson on Sunday.
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