North Carolina rallies from 17-point deficit to beat Iowa State, win Phil Knight Invitational

Deja Kelly scored 29 points to power No. 8 North Carolina to a 17-point comeback over No. 5 Iowa State and win 73-64 in the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament Sunday.

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

“We’re watching them become a team right in front of our very eyes,” North Carolina head coach Courtney Banghart said. “Typically, that happens on the practice court. These guys are really becoming a team. We got better this weekend, and that was our goal.”

It was the third straight game that North Carolina trailed at the half 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 has to make shots and we didn’t make many tonight,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. “A lot of work to do, but that’s what this tournament’s 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 throughout the opening two periods, taking a 35-22 lead into halftime behind 12 first-half points and nine rebounds from Soares.

The Cyclones led by as much as 17 in the second quarter, but after halftime the Tar Heels began to chip away at the deficit. A 15-0 fourth-quarter run gave North Carolina its first lead of the night and they never gave it back to Iowa State.

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

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

After North Carolina completed its comeback in the championship game, Kelly was named MVP of the tournament.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels ran the table in the PKI tournament to remain undefeated on the season.

Iowa State: The Cyclones had a mixed showing at the PKI tournament, handling No. 18 Oregon in the opening game before blowing a 17-point lead to the Tar Heels in the championship game.


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

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

— Sean Highkin, The Associated Press

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