Donarski scores 23, UNC women beat No. 6 NC State

Alyssa Ustby added a double-double for the Tar Heels


CHAPEL HILL — Lexi Donarski scored 23 points to power UNC to an 80-70 win over No. 6 NC State on Thursday night.

The Tar Heels (18-9, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) were also boosted by 13 points and 11 rebounds from Alyssa Ustby, a career-high 12 points from Alexandra Zelaya, 12 points and seven rebounds from Maria Gakdeng and 11 points from Indya Nivar.

“It’s no secret that Donarski is a great 3-point shooter and we let her hit five,” NC State coach Wes Moore said. “And then Zelaya, that’s what she does. … We just didn’t get it done.”

Aziaha James led the Wolfpack (23-4, 11-4) with 24 points, while Mimi Collins added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Saniya Rivers chipped in 13 points and Madison Hayes had 11.

The Tar Heels won their third straight after a four-game skid, while the Wolfpack had their three-game winning streak snapped. It was the largest margin of victory for UNC over NC State since the 2018-19 season.

After trailing by seven points in the first quarter, UNC coach Courtney Banghart inserted a smaller frontcourt of Zelaya and Nivar. The Tar Heels then closed the period on a 13-5 run to take a two-point lead, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Zelaya.

“It’s my job to stay ready. I take that job seriously every day,” Zelaya said. “I let the ball fly and it went in. To go out there and just feel the momentum shift — I feel like we all felt it. And we just kept on going, just kept maximizing. I was lucky the 3s went in.”

Zelaya hit her fourth 3 of the night — a career high for the senior forward — in the third quarter. The Tar Heels pushed their lead to 14 points in the fourth quarter when Donarski swished her final 3.

Also key for UNC was the steady play of point guard Deja Kelly, who had nine points, eight assists and zero turnovers in 38 minutes.

UNC plays at No. 8 Virginia Tech on Sunday, while NC State is at Duke on Sunday.