The North Carolina women’s basketball team will be gunning for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen when the No. 4 seed Tar Heels take on the No. 5 seed Michigan State Spartans Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.
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The Tar Heel women are fortunate just to be still playing basketball this season after being down a daunting 18 points in their first round encounter with UT-Martin.
Sophomore Xylina McDaniel says she credits the Skyhawks for their incredible play and says the team knows it needs to get back to doing what they do best.
“I’m not going to say that we took them that lightly. They played one of the best games that they could ever play. Coming into this next game, we are going to focus on what we have to do, doing what we do best: play defense,” McDaniel says.
Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder says Michigan State will present all sorts of challenges to the Tar Heels Tuesday evening in the second round.
“They’re a very talented team and well-coached. They start five players who can shoot the three, which spreads the floor. They have a very good driving game because the floor is spread. They have a very good power game inside. We’re looking forward to the challenge,” Coach Calder says.
National Freshman of the Year Diamond DeShields says she’s happy to get her first NCAA Tournament game under her belt. She says she now fully grasps how much harder everybody plays when their tourney lives are on the line.
“I understand now that teams are going to be a lot different in this tournament than they were in the season, only because this is the NCAA Tournament. There’s a lot at stake. You’re going to get their best game. They’re probably going to shock themselves at times. Other teams are going to just play incredibly. You have to come out and play your best game, too,” DeShields says.
With a mere three points Tuesday, DeShields would become the ACC’s top scoring freshman in league history.
Slow starts have been a reoccurring theme for the Tar Heels this season. DeShields says she’s unsure of the root of this problem, but vows that will change against the Spartans.
“We haven’t figured it out yet. It’s still happening. Every game, like Coach said, is a new 40 minutes. Now is the time for us to pick it up and figure it out. You can expect a better start,” DeShields says.
UNC leads the all-time series with Michigan State 3-1, but dropped the last meeting between the two schools up in East Lansing the last time they squared off.
The showdown will be broadcast live on 97.9 FM, WCHL, streamed on Chapelboro.com, and nationally televised on ESPN2 starting at 7 p.m.