No. 25 North Carolina 65, No. 12 Miami 63
Sylvia Hatchell spent all Monday night telling her North
Carolina players to keep believing they could win despite yet
another key injury, a bevy of turnovers and the struggle to find
any rhythm offensively.
At least her Tar Heels proved they’ll still listen to their
coach on a rough night.
Chay Shegog hit the go-ahead free throws with 1:11 left, helping
No. 25 North Carolina rally past No. 12 Miami 65-63 in the Atlantic
Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Shegog finished with 20 points to lead the Tar Heels (11-2, 1-0
ACC), who won despite finishing with a season-high 31 turnovers.
North Carolina trailed by eight with about 5 1/2 minutes left
before fighting back to take its first lead on Shegog’s free
throws. Freshman Brittany Rountree added 14 points for the Tar
Heels, including two free throws with 16.7 seconds left to push
UNC’s lead to four.
The Tar Heels held on from there, surviving a missed layup by
Miami’s Riquna Williams that would’ve tied it with 2 seconds left
as well as Morgan Stroman’s hurried heave that fell way short as
the horn sounded.
”About the only thing I can say is they never gave up and they
played with a lot of heart,” Hatchell said. ”It wasn’t pretty and
we had a lot of turnovers, but they kept fighting and playing
It was a victory that’s sure to give the Tar Heels some
confidence, not to mention show Hatchell that she’s got a bunch of
fighters despite a rough start.
Williams knocked down 3-pointers on the first two possessions
for the Hurricanes (11-3, 0-1) while the Tar Heels missed a pair of
layups on their first two trips down the floor. An irate Hatchell
had seen enough by that point, calling a timeout 68 seconds in to
have an animated discussion with her players in the huddle.
”I said, `Look, y’all are playing like you’re afraid of
them,”’ Hatchell said. ”’We’re in a battle out here, you know?
You’ve got to be aggressive.”’
But things got worse. First North Carolina fell behind by 11
points. Then senior guard She’la White rolled her left ankle while
driving to the basket in the latest blow to a roster already
depleted by injuries. White tried to return later in the half, but
her departure looked crippling when freshmen Rountree and Shannon
Smith were left as the only true ballhandlers against Miami’s
pressure – not to mention when Rountree picked up her fourth foul
less than a minute into the second half.
At times, the Tar Heels were struggling to get the ball across
midcourt against Miami’s fullcourt trap. Smith had nine turnovers
and repeatedly heard frustrated streams both from the UNC sideline
or her own teammates.
Yet the Tar Heels played enough defense to hold Miami to
35-percent shooting, including 6-for-26 from 3-point range. They
also took a 41-34 rebounding advantage and finished with a 16-7
edge in second-chance points, including when the 5-foot-7 Smith
somehow managed to grab her own miss and score to tie the game at
60 with 1:53 left.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes were going in the wrong direction.
”We just didn’t have that fight that we normally have,” said
Stroman, who had 13 points. ”It’s like, I guess, we’re depending
on everyone to make the big shots at the end of the game and at
that time, we just need to step up and … play with our chest out
and play with confidence. And we weren’t playing like that.”
Miami led 58-50 on Stefanie Yderstrom’s third 3-pointer with
5:19 left, but the Hurricanes missed eight of their last 10 shots.
The teams were tied on the boards with about 7 1/2 minutes left
before the Tar Heels pushed ahead there late.
Williams finished with 16 points, including a driving layup
while drawing a blocking foul from Smith for a three-point play
that brought Miami to within 64-63 with 11.1 seconds left.
Yderstrom added 15 points, though preseason ACC player of the year
Shenise Johnson had 11 on 4-for-13 shooting.
That defense helped negate all the turnovers that led to 25
points for Miami – though the Tar Heels didn’t have a turnover in
the final 4 1/2 minutes.
”You’ve got to finish games on the road in the ACC,” Miami
coach Katie Meier said, ”and we didn’t.”