BOSTON -- North Carolina challenged Boston College to hit the 3-pointer. After giving up 14 baskets from beyond the arc, the Tar Heels finally went out to stop them.
Jessica Breland had 18 points and nine rebounds, scoring on a late tip-in after BC cut a 17-point deficit to one and leading No. 8 North Carolina to an 84-83 victory on Sunday.
"They were busting 3s all over the place there," Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I like to play that way. I love to go up and down the floor. I think that may have been one the reason we blew a 17-point lead. It was fun."
Chay Shegog scored 16 points with eight rebounds and Cetera DeGraffenreid had 10 points, seven steals and six assists. The Tar Heels (15-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) were coming off a 71-70 loss to Georgia Tech on Thursday that knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Kerri Shields scored 18 points on six 3-pointers, and Stefanie Murphy had 14 points and 13 rebounds for BC (13-3, 0-1). The Eagles had a season-high 14 3-pointers, but Carolina denied Shields the ball down the stretch and the Eagles were forced to settle for long, off-balance 3s to try to come back.
"They shot well at the 3-point line," Hatchell said. "That's one thing we didn't want to give up" in the last 2 minutes.
BC made it into the poll at No. 25 for two weeks last month before dropping out following a loss to Michigan. Coach Sylvia Crawley, who played on North Carolina's 1994 NCAA championship team, said her team is encouraged by its performance against a ranked team but also know how much work it has to do.
"It's one more stop. It's one more rebound. But we're getting there," Crawley said. "We know that we can score. It's the defensive end we need to work on. Until we correct on that end, it's going to be hard to stay in the Top 25."
North Carolina took a 58-41 lead with 16 minutes left, but midway through the second half Shields hit four 3-pointers in less than two minutes to eliminate half of the deficit. Twice in the final minutes the Eagles had the ball and a chance to take the lead, but the Tar Heels defense tightened up.
"I knew at that point we were still in the game. It was a great feeling," Shields said. "I know that we can play with anyone. We're a young team and we have a lot to learn. We learned a lot today."
Trailing 72-70, BC couldn't get a good shot off before the shot clock buzzer on two straight possessions, and Carolina scored eight straight points to open an 80-70 lead.
Kristen Doherty and Shields made 3-pointers to cut UNC's lead to 82-81 with 2:40 left. That's when DeGraffenreid came up with a steal and got the ball ahead to Italee Lucas on the fast break; she missed the layup but Breland tipped it back in to make it 84-81.
"Times like this, you have to make sure you put the ball in the basket," Breland said.
Doherty, who scored 13, missed a 3-pointer on BC's next possession and Breland tied up Murphy on the rebound for a jump ball; the alternate possession arrow gave the ball to Carolina. After DeGraffenreid's missed foul shot, Murphy made a layup that made it a one-point game, but there was only 3.4 seconds left.
BC fouled and Lucas missed the foul shot, but the Eagles were out of timeouts and time expired as Murphy tried to dribble into position for the shot.