North Carolina bounces back from No. 17 to beat No. 5 Iowa state

Cyclones suffer their first loss of the season in the Phil Knight Invitational title game

North Carolina bounces back from No. 17 to beat No. 5 Iowa state

North Carolina guard Kennedy Todd-Williams shoots in front of Iowa State center Stephanie Soares (10) during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game at the Phil Knight Invitational tournament in Portland, Ore., Sunday, November 27, 2022. ( AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Deja Kelly scored 29 points to make No. 8 North Carolina a 17-point comeback against No. 5 Iowa State to win the championship game of Sunday’s Phil Knight Invitational tournament 73-64.

Kennedy Todd-Williams added 17 points to help the Tar Heels (6-0) complete the comeback and remain undefeated for the season. Alyssa Ustby contributed 14 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

“We’re watching them come together as a team right before our eyes,” said North Carolina head coach Courtney Banghart. “It usually happens on the practice field. These guys are really becoming a team. We got better this weekend and that was our goal.”

It was the third straight game North Carolina trailed at halftime before rallying to win.

Stephanie Soares led the Cyclones (5-1) with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Ashley Joens had 18 points and nine rebounds as Iowa State suffered its first loss of the year.

“We’re a team that needs to take shots and we didn’t take many tonight,” said Bill Fennelly, Iowa State head coach. “There’s a lot to do, but that’s what this tournament is designed to do – find out what you’re good at and find out what you’re not so good at.”

Iowa State controlled the game during the first two periods and went into halftime with a 35-22 lead, behind 12 first-half points and nine rebounds from Soares.

The Cyclones led by as much as 17 points in the second quarter, but after halftime the Tar Heels began to close the gap. A 15-0 run in the fourth quarter gave North Carolina their first lead of the evening, which they never gave back to Iowa State.

North Carolina got hot from 3-point range in the second half and finished the game at 43.8% (7 of 16) from deep.

Iowa State dominated the glass, overtaking North Carolina 46-37.

After North Carolina completed their comeback in championship play, Kelly was named tournament MVP.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels topped the table in the PKI tournament to go undefeated this season.

State of Iowa: The Cyclones put on a mixed performance in the PKI tournament, dealing with No. 18 Oregon in the opening game before wiping out a 17-point lead over the Tar Heels in the championship game.


State of Iowa: The Cyclones return home on Tuesday to take on SIU Edwardsville.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels travel to Bloomington on Thursday to take on No. 6 Indiana.