Tar Heel Women Rebound, Crush Black Bears

Allisha Gray tallied 17 points to help the No. 6 North Carolina women’s basketball team bounce back from its first loss of the season with a 65-36 victory over Maine at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Friday night.

The Tar Heels improved to 10-1 on the season, but suffered a setback to No. 16 Oregon State 70-55 on Tuesday night. With the loss, the Black Bears dropped to 7-4 overall.

Friday night, UNC stamped its authority early, opening a 14-0 lead. But a three-point play by the Black Bears drew Maine to 24-21 with 18 minutes to go. Gray quickly responded and helped spur the Tar Heels on a 20-3 run over the next six minutes to take control.

UNC has won 18 of its last 19 games played on the Palmetto State’s Grand Strand resort area. It’s only loss in that span was to South Carolina, currently the country’s No. 1 team, in the 2011-12 season.

The Tar Heels finish their beach trip by facing Elon on Sunday.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-women-rebound-crush-black-bears/

Tar Heels Hit The Beach This Weekend

The No. 6 North Carolina women’s basketball team, 9-1 on the season, makes its annual trip down to Myrtle Beach to take on a pair of foes at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

First up, the Tar Heels will square off with the Maine Black Bear Bears, sporting a 7-3 record, Friday night at 7 p.m.

UNC will be hungry to wipe off the bitter taste of a 70-55 home defeat earlier this week to No. 16 Oregon State.

Sophomore guard Allisha Gray is averaging 20 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists over the last four games. She’s led the team in scoring six times and has scored in double figures in all but one contest this season.

Following Friday’s tilt, the Tar Heels will get a day of rest before facing a more local opponent , the 5-3 Elon Phoenix, Sunday at 3 p.m..

Both games will be broadcast on 97.9 FM, WCHL.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-hit-beach-weekend/

UNC WBB Hit With Season’s First Loss

In a gritty battle of the unbeatens, No. 6 UNC fell to No. 14 Oregon State in a 70-55 loss Tuesday evening in Carmichael Arena. North Carolina now sits with a 9-1 record, and Oregon State is lifted to 8-0.

The Tar Heels didn’t clench a lead once during the match and finally scored their first basket at 17:30 in the first half with a turn around jumper by sophomore standout Stephanie Mavunga.

UNC’s frontcourt was stifled for most of the game due to Oregon State’s immense height advantage. Mavunga was up against the likes of 6-foot-6 OSU junior Ruth Hamblin, who dominated the paint with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks. Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell says her team is still very good, but Oregon State’s defense is one they just couldn’t match up with.

“Our shooting was really, really bad tonight,” Coach Hatchell said. “I think inside the size bothered our inside game because our numbers weren’t good in there. (Xylina McDaniel) was 3-17 and Stephanie was 5-17 and they usually both score well inside. But we’ve got to learn to play against size like that, and they will – tonight was a different experience, we’ll learn from it.”

Carolina trailed at the half for the first time all season at 37-25, and couldn’t manage to catch back up to the Beavers later in the game.

Oregon State led by as much as 20 points in the second half behind consecutive threes from their sharpshooting squad, currently listing three of the top seven three-point shooters in school history. OSU finished 7-28 from behind the arc, while UNC was only 1-14.

The Beavers have now won their first road game against a top-10 opponent in program history. UNC was the highest placed team to fall to OSU since Oregon State upset No. 3 Stanford in 1992.

“This is huge, it’s a pretty great feeling,” Hamblin said of winning and making history. “It’s a great feeling, especially as a team, we executed and earned this. It’s definitely a big step for the program. Obviously what (Head Coach Scott Rueck) has been doing over the past five years has just been progressively taking steps forward and after making the NCAA Tournament last year, I think this is just another step forward.”

Sophomore Allisha Gray led the way for the Heels with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Mavunga followed behind with 14 points and 7 boards.

OSU’s leaders include junior Jamie Weisner with 14 on 3-7 behind the three-point line and sophomore Sydney Weise with 13 points.

North Carolina will travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Friday to face Maine in the first game of their holiday tournament.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-wbb-hit-seasons-first-loss/

UNC WBB Beats App State to Stay Undefeated

After 25 days on the road, Stephanie Mavunga led sixth-ranked North Carolina to an 84-52 win to continue the Heels’ undefeated streak against Appalachian State Sunday afternoon in Carmichael Arena. Carolina is now 9-0 behind Mavunga’s 19 points and 9 rebounds. Appalachian State has now fallen to 3-4 on the season.

Even with the blowout win, Carolina suffered from behind the three-point arc with a 26.3 percent success rate and no shots made in the second half at all. Mavunga stepped in as the Tar Heel’s go-to offensive threat, much to the liking of Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell.

Practices have been very abbreviated, we haven’t been doing as many shooting sessions in the last week to ten days,” Coach Hatchell said. “Also we went inside a lot too and Stephanie was able to get going inside there but we’ll keep working on it.”

Carolina didn’t quite start the game in its typical quick-scoring fashion, as poor offensive possessions and a traveling violation by sophomore Stephanie Mavunga stifled UNC from clenching a solid lead.

After UNC switched into a full court pressure defense and freshman Jamie Cherry hit consecutive three-pointers, the Tar Heels were finally given a big jump.

But Carolina would soon be hit with a scare, as UNC sophomore and leading scorer Allisha Gray drove to the basket and collapsed in pain, seeming to have rolled her right ankle. After moments of silence in Carmichael Arena, Gray limped off with a bit of assistance from Coach Hatchell.

“I was really panicking,” Mavunga said. “I saw her go down and at first I thought ‘okay, she’ about to come back up,’ but I just started saying my prayers  and I had a lot of faith in her so I was so happy when I saw her get up.”

“The reason I went out there is because I saw it when her foot hit the (floor) upright and it turned. That really concerned me, because it didn’t look good,” Coach Hatchell also chimed in.

Carolina had no problem while Gray was out, however, with big help from their bench. A big three from Megan Buckland and a strong block from Hillary Summers) extended UNC to a 20-point lead midway through the first half.

The Mountaineers gained some momentum and capitalized on the Heels’ mistakes to go on an 11-5 run before the half ended with a 46-27 UNC lead.

The game’s second half looked a lot like the first, even though the Mountaineers had a much better offensive game but couldn’t close Carolina’s wide scoring margin.

App State shot 33 percent from behind the arc in the opening minutes of the second half and was led by senior forward Mariah Syndor who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Notable players from UNC include Gray with 12 points and four rebounds and senior Latifah Coleman and junior N’Dea Bryant who finished with 9 points apiece.

Carolina will host Oregon State on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-wbb-beats-app-state-stay-undefeated/

UNC Wins Epic 2OT Battle With No. 18 Rutgers

In a double overtime shootout, sixth-ranked UNC women’s basketball knocked off No. 18 Rutgers on the road with a 96-93 victory Thursday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Behind sophomore Allisha Gray’s season-high 29 points, The Tar Heels came back from trailing by 12 points in the second half to remain undefeated with an 8-0 record. Rutgers boasted the nation’s longest winning streak before the loss, but now stands at a 6-1 record.

In a high intensity back-and-forth contest, Carolina went on a run to cut the Scarlet Knights’ lead and tie the game at 71 at the end of regulation.

Carolina was up by five with 40 seconds left in overtime before Rutgers caught up to force the game into double overtime. Senior Latifah Coleman, last week’s tournament MVP, solidified the victory for the Heels with a steal, basket and two made free throws.

North Carolina is coming back to Chapel Hill to face Appalachian State in Carmichael Arena on Sunday, December 14th.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-wins-epic-2ot-battle-no-18-rutgers/

No. 6 UNC Visits Rutgers in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

After jumping five spots in the AP poll, the No. 6 North Carolina women’s basketball team, 7-0 on the season, has finished a victorious run in Hawaii and will now visit No. 18 Rutgers , another undefeated squad, in New Jersey Thursday at 7 p.m. in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The game features a battle between two top-tier women’s basketball coaches – as UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell, the active women’s leader in wins with 942, faces 2009 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee C. Vivian Stringer. Stringer has led the Scarlet Knights to an overall 935-341 record in 44 seasons.

In the eighth year of the challenge, UNC holds a 5-2 all-time record, with their only losses coming on road games. 2014 marks Rutgers’ first season in the Big Ten conference and the first meet-up between the two notable programs.

The game will be broadcast on 97.9 FM, WCHL and televised on the Big Ten Network.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/no-6-unc-visits-rutgers-accbig-ten-challenge/

Championship Potential For Hatchell, Tar Heels

Amidst the conclusion of Tar Heel football and the beginnings of Carolina men’s basketball, the UNC women’s basketball team has flown under the radar, despite starting its season 7-0 with wins over three Top 25 teams.

***Listen to the story***

The unbeaten Tar Heels just hopped back over to the mainland from an extended stay in paradise – on and off the court.

UNC claimed the Rainbow Wahine Showdown championship trophy Sunday in Honolulu with a 74-65 victory over Hawaii.

UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell says the trip was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for her team.

“We’ve had a wonderful group of fans over; probably more than 100 have come over. We’ve had a blast. I tried to tell people before we came that this was a trip of a lifetime. It’s really a wonderful trip. The girls have had a great time. They have been first class on and off the court. I’m so proud of them. It’s such a great group,” Coach Hatchell says.

The Tar Heels came out on top in Hawaii (UNC Athletics)

The Tar Heels came out on top in Hawaii (UNC Athletics)

The biggest win for Carolina so far this season came in an emphatic 70-54 triumph over No. 8 Stanford. The Tar Heels overwhelmed the Cardinal with sharp shooting, fast break running and superior depth.

Last season, the Tar Heels advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament before losing to, you guessed it, Stanford. Revenge was sweet this time around.

The rest of the nation has taken notice of the hot start by the Tar Heels. In the most recent AP top 25 poll, UNC jumped up five spots to No. 6 – a place the Tar Heels well deserve.

UNC returned every contributing player from last year’s squad save Diamond DeShields, who surprised everyone with her transfer to Tennessee. The Volunteers, by the way are 4-2 on the season and ranked fourteenth in the latest rankings.

In addition, Coach Hatchell has added one of the most talented incoming freshmen classes in the country, including point guard Jamie Cherry.

Coach Hatchell says the only thing missing from Cherry’s skill set is experience.

“Jamie’s just going to get better and better. She’s a freshman and still has some things to learn. The kid’s got skills. She can shoot and has great ball handling skills. She just needs experience,” Coach Hatchell says.

Latifah Coleman, on the other hand, has plenty of experience. The senior was named the tournament MVP last weekend thanks to her laser-like precision, hitting all four of her three-point attempts against Hawaii.

Coach Hatchell knows what it takes to cut down the nets at the end of the year, winning the 1994 national title. The Hall of Famer says this year’s group of Tar Heels is equipped with five essential tools that could get her a second banner.

“The strength of our team is in five things. First of all, we have great chemistry. We have leadership. We have balance, depth and we have talent,” Coach Hatchell says.

Chemistry. Leadership. Balance. Depth. Talent. That’s a quality quintet.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/championship-potential-hatchell-tar-heels/

Coleman, Tar Heels Upset No. 5 Cardinal

The eleventh-ranked North Carolina women’s basketball team pulled off a 70-54 upset over No. 5 Stanford in the opening round of the Rainbow Wahine Shootout in Honolulu Friday and improved to 5-0 on the season.

Senior guard Latifah Coleman led the Heels to their 5th straight victory with a career high 19 points as well as 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

This makes Stanford’s second loss in three games after an impressive 33-4 record in their 2013-2014 campaign. They are now 3-2 on the season.

Stanford shot a season-low 31 percent from the field Friday night and guard Lili Thompson was the only player for the Cardinal to score in double-digits with 15 points.

Carolina led the entire game behind Coleman’s breakout performance as well as contributions from junior Xylina McDaniel with 15 points and sophomore Stephanie Mavunga, who tallied 10 points and eight rebounds.

UNC has now beaten the Cardinal for the first time in history, coming in at 0-3 against Stanford before the match.

The Tar Heels will play Prairie View A&M Saturday.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/coleman-tar-heels-upset-no-5-cardinal/

UNC Sports Weekend Offered Up Plenty

With fall sports conducting NCAA playoffs and basketball season now in full swing, it was an eventful weekend for Tar Heel athletics. UNC athletes experienced both the thrill of victory and the bitter taste of defeat.

***Listen to the story***

The UNC men’s and women’s basketball teams have hit the road with desirable final destinations. The men are Bahamas bound, while the women are headed to Hawaii.

But the two squads made quick pit stops over the weekend. The men stopped in Charlotte to take on the sharp-shooting Davidson Wildcats Saturday inside Time Warner Cable Arena.

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

The sixth-ranked Tar Heels used an in-form defense to cool the Wildcats off and emerge with a comfortable 90-72 win to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

UNC head coach Roy Williams says he was pleased with his team’s play, especially on the defensive side of the floor.

“I think we beat a very good basketball team that is a difficult matchup for us. I thought defensively, it was by far our best game of the year,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore Kennedy Meeks was impressive, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. But Coach Williams says Meeks is still figuring out how to play in his new slimmed-down frame.

“I think it’s a day-to-day thing. We’ve got to get his mind correct – that he does have a different body and can do certain things. He’s giving me the tired signal, then goes out there, denies the pass 45-feet from the basket and goes down and dunks,” Coach Williams says. “I’ve told him all the time to give me the tired signal when he goes back on offense, not defense. He just doesn’t realize what his body can do right now.”

As for the women, they met up with the Oregon Ducks in Eugene Sunday and after a sluggish start that may have been credited to jetlag; the Tar Heels poured it on in the second half to run away with an emphatic 76-59 triumph and up their record to 4-0.

UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell’s halftime adjustments paid off. With the three-point shots misfiring, the Hall of Fame coach made it simple for her players – just dominate inside. The Tar Heels did just that.

“Offensively, we got the ball inside. I told them at halftime that our advantage is to get the ball inside. They can’t stop us. We’re out there jacking up all these threes. They weren’t going in. Everything we did [in second half] was to get the ball inside,” Coach Hatchell says.

After the game, Coach Hatchell says she received a special compliment from one of the officials.

“We want to just keep getting and better as a team. I really love this team. They’re great kids. In fact, right at the end of the game, one of the referees said to me, ‘It’s such a privilege and honor to call for your team because not only are you skilled, but your ladies are so classy.’ That’s pretty special. The image of how they represent themselves and especially the University of North Carolina, is tremendous,” Coach Hatchell says.

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

But not all UNC’s teams came out on the right end of the scoreboard over the weekend. There will be no 22nd national championship this year for the Carolina women’s soccer team.

The Tar Heel women were upset 1-0 by South Carolina in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Fetzer Field.

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance says despite the setback, he was proud of his team’s accomplishments this season that included a share of the ACC regular season title.

“I’m proud of my senior class. We had really good leadership. If you look at our season overall, we certainly overachieved. We were conference co-champs with Florida State and a No.2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That’s pretty good for a team that was without ten starters from the previous year. But the day obviously goes to South Carolina,” Coach Dorrance says.

For the seniors, the loss was especially tough to take. Senior Satara Murray, though, says she couldn’t have asked for a better four years as a Tar Heel.

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women's soccer team (UNC Athletics)

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women’s soccer team (UNC Athletics)

“All in all, I had a fantastic year. I had fun. It was an amazing four years. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, but I love playing with this team every minute, every game. These girls fought for one another, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Credit goes to my team for making this an unforgettable and memorable four years,” Murray says.

In other action, the UNC men had better luck on the soccer pitch, defeating tenth-seeded Charlotte 2-1 in rainy conditions Sunday to survive and advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels will face the winner of the Clemson-Coastal Carolina match to be played Monday.

And last but certainly not least, the Carolina volleyball team continues to serve up a storm. This time, the No. 7 Tar Heels bagged a 3-1 win over the Louisville Cardinals Sunday afternoon in Cardinal Arena.

UNC head coach Joe Sagula’s 24-2 team will wrap up the regular season this week with a pair of home matches – a rivalry encounter against No. 21 Duke and an ACC matchup with Wake Forest.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-sports-overdrive/

UNC Toughs Out Top-25 Win Over OK State

The eleventh-ranked North Carolina women’s basketball team remains undefeated thanks to a 79-77 nail-biter victory against No. 21 Oklahoma State Wednesday evening in Carmichael Arena.

The Cowgirls have now fallen to 2-1, while North Carolina remains unscathed at 3-0.

This was Carolina’s first tough game of the season, one that Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell says the ladies will benefit from before their road game stretch against even higher-ranked opponents.

“Well I think we’re very balanced, we’ve got good leadership with the seniors, we’ve got depth,” Coach Hatchell says. “And I’m very confident so it’s good to be able to put the different (players) in there, and we’re going to get better and better with our outside shooting and learning a little bit more of when to take those shots. So we’ll get smarter as we go along.”

OSU’s highest scorer, Brittany Martin, who averaged 24.5 points per contest before the night’s game, was out early in both halves due to foul trouble. OSU Head Coach Jim Littell, who coached his squad to a 25-9 record last season, says Martin’s low minutes made a significant difference in the development of his team’s offense.

Brittany Rountree (left), Xylina McDaniel and Stephanie Mavunga (UNC Athletics)

Brittany Rountree (left), Xylina McDaniel and Stephanie Mavunga (UNC Athletics)

“She got two fouls guarding the ball at the wrong end of the court, and that was a factor in the game for us,” Coach Littell says. “She’d scored 24 in game one, 27 in game two; but she played 16 minutes tonight and it was basically because of silly fouls. We got what we deserved on that. But we’ve got a long way to go, we lost a couple really good players last year and we’re trying to find our way right now of how we need to play. It was better tonight but we’re disappointed because we felt like we had a chance to win the game.”

The night started out a lot like any other UNC game this season, as reigning leading scorer Allisha Gray came out with a hot hand, and scored the first 8 points of the match. A bucket by sophomore Stephanie Mavunga started off Carolina’s early 10-0 run.

Minutes later, that lead was cut, and OSU’s Brittany Atkins came back with a big three-point shot to tie the game back up at 15 with just under 13 minutes left in the half. The Cowgirls took their first lead of the game that next possession with a strong drive to the basket by senior Lashawn Jones, who finished the night with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

UNC battled back to give themselves more breathing room with 3 minutes to play, creating a nine-point lead off of a beautiful in-bounds play from Gray to senior Danielle Butts, with an assist back down to Gray who finished with a lay-up on the baseline. Consecutive three’s by Oklahoma native Jessica Washington and an and-1 score by Butts closed the half with the Tar Heels on top at 40-29. OSU guard Roshunda Johnson dominated the second half and kept the Tar Heels from running away with the lead, shooting 3 for 4 from behind the arc and 6-10 from the field to finish with 21 points.

Johnson’s strong drive to the basket and a full court pass to Jones in the post brought OSU within 6 points of Carolina at 50-44 and caused UNC’s Hall of Fame coach to call a timeout. UNC senior Brittany Rountree emerged from that break with her first and only made three-pointer of the game, a depressing statistic after her 17-point performance scoring four three-pointers against UCLA Sunday.

Three consecutive baskets by the Cowgirls gave them their first lead since 12:47 of the first half at 65-63, with 5:40 left to play. Junior Xylina McDaniel stole the ball and traveled coast to coast to score. Mavunga then put the Heels back on top with an and-1 lay-up. She missed the extra point, which was rebounded by Allisha Gray and sent cross-court to Rountree for a field goal.

With 1:14 left to play, Gray fouled OSU’s Martin who was sent to the free throw line and made both of her shots to cut the Heels’ lead to 77-74. After breaking OSU’s press, Mavunga went up for lay-up and was called for an offensive foul with one minute left to play, much to the joy of Oklahoma State’s bench. Another big 3 by Johnson tied the game at 77 points.

Senior Latifah Coleman dished a pass to Stephanie Mavunga for the last basket of the game with 30 seconds left. Oklahoma State made one last attempt to extend the game with a “Hail Mary” pass inbounds, but it was stolen out of the air by Gray to seal the Tar Heels’ victory.

Five Tar Heels scored in double figures, as Stephanie Mavunga and Xylina McDaniel collected double-doubles and Allisha Gray led all scorers with 22 points.

Carolina heads west to begin a string of road games for the next month, beginning with Oregon Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-wins-big-tough-game-ok-state/