UNC Fails to Survive Duke In OT

No high-stakes rivalry game is complete without an emotional competition and dramatic finish. And in front of a sold-out crowd in Carmichael Arena, No. 12 UNC fell to No. 15 Duke 74-67 in an overtime match Sunday evening. With the win, Duke now has a 14-6 overall record and is 5-2 in the ACC. The Tar Heels have fallen to 4-3 in conference play and hold a 17-4 record overall.

Before tonight’s contest, North Carolina and Duke were tied with Syracuse at fifth in ACC Standings with 4-2 records. But the Blue Devils were able to snap a five-road game losing streak and claim their first ACC away victory on one of its most hostile courts.

“It was a scrappy game, a very good defensive game without question,” Duke Head Coach Joanne “P” McCallie said. “Just a lot of heart and hustle on the floor, I think you saw a lot of dives, a lot of loose balls, and I think it was a heart game, very much a heart game.”

North Carolina was outrebounded from the beginning. 6’3” sophomore forward Stephanie Mavunga was wildly undersized compared to Duke’s roster, which has five players who are taller than her.

UNC had a big boost in scoring from senior Latifah Coleman. Coleman finished with 14 points and hit a three-pointer in the first half that gave the Tar Heels its biggest jump over Duke with twelve points.

But in a game of runs, the Blue Devils leaned on its inside game.

The only word to describe Duke’s Elizabeth Williams: dominant. Williams’ 33 points were not only her career high, they were also the most points scored by a Duke player against North Carolina ever, and they contributed greatly to the Blue Devils’ 46 points scored in the paint.

“She’s a tough player, she knows how to use her body really well,” Mavunga said of Williams’ presence in the post. “She’s been playing the game for a lot of years, she’s a senior and she’s been playing college ball for a long time so I think that she outsmarts me in some ways sometimes. It’s just hard to play against her sometimes but at the same time I could have played better defense on her.”

Williams was too much to handle on both ends of the floor. In the last seconds of regulation, she blocked Coleman’s lay-up that would have given UNC a two-point win after being tied at 62.

In overtime, Duke won the tip and ran away with the game. Carolina trailed by as many as seven points, as last minute three-point attempts by Allisha Gray and drives inside failed to score for UNC. Shots also fell from outside for the Blue Devils, as guards Rebecca Greenwell and Ka’lia Johnson had phenomenal games. Greenwell finished with 14 points and rebounds, Johnson contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds.

As two of the leading scorers in the last time UNC and Duke met in the ACC tournament, Gray and Mavunga were also on top of scoring today – finishing with 20 and 15, respectively. Latifah Coleman’s first half showdown put up 13 of her 14 points.

Just as in every hard-fought game lost, Coach Hatchell was questioned on the team’s ability to remain a top contender throughout the remainder of the season. But Coach assured that the Tar Heels will remain poised and confident.

“Just because we lose a game in overtime doesn’t mean that we’re falling apart or that we’re not one of the top teams in the country,” Hatchell said. “But in this league, gosh, come Monday we’re probably going to have six teams in the ACC ranked in the top 25. Playing in this league is like being in the Final Four – I mean, really.”

Next up for the Tar Heels is another home game against Boston College, the last team to beat Duke, on Superbowl Sunday at 2 p.m.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-fails-survive-duke-ot/

UNC Closes Rivalry Week with Sunday Duke Matchup

The No. 12 North Carolina women’s basketball team faces its top rival, No. 15 Duke, in Carmichael Arena Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m.

In facing another in-state rival, N.C. State, UNC is coming off of a nail-biting 67-63 win Thursday in Raleigh. Senior guard Danielle Butts led Carolina in scoring for the first time in her career with 12 points, and fellow senior Latifah Coleman added a career-high seven rebounds.

Down Tobacco Road, Duke suffered a road loss to Boston College Thursday night, which made for their fifth straight road loss this season. They will be looking to snap that streak with Duke’s high scoring duo in Elizabeth Williams and Azura Stevens, who average a combined 43.5 points, 18 rebounds, eight assists, six blocks and five steals per game.

But Carolina has a notable duo of its own. Sophomores Allisha Gray and Stephanie Mavunga make up two of the ACC’s leading scorers to go along with the shot-blocking accolades for Mavunga. Both the Tar Heels and Blue Devils have an ACC record of 4-2.

You can watch the rivalry game on ESPN2 or listen live on 97.9 FM.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-stretches-rivalry-week-duke-sunday/

UNC WBB Completes Comeback Win Over N.C. State

In a narrow escape, the No. 12 North Carolina’s women basketball team defeated North Carolina State ,67-63, in Reynolds Coliseum Thursday evening. The Tar Heels are now 4-2 in the ACC and 17-3 overall. With the loss, N.C. State fell even to 3-3 in the conference with a 12-7 record.

The start of the game was sluggish for both teams. Carolina committed 3 turnovers in its first few possessions and did not score a field goal until almost four minutes into the game. Both UNC and N.C. State were shooting well below 30 percent from the field.

Unlike the teams’ first meeting in Chapel Hill on Jan. 4, the Tar Heels never made a solid run to gain any hope of clinching a blowout. In fact, N.C. State ran up the score on them, leading by as many as 13, but the Wolfpack ended the first half with a 26-21 edge thanks to poor shooting from the Tar Heels.

“We kept battling hard, so I was happy we were only down by five at halftime,” UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “But State played really smart and they played well but we had a time out and I challenged the seniors – I have three seniors. And I just said ‘alright you three seniors, this is your team.’ And they went back out there and then man, all of a sudden we got a couple of steals off defensive pressure and it gave us some momentum that we needed.”

Coming out of the halftime break, UNC turned up the intensity on its defense and broke out into a trap that allowed them three steals and two easy buckets for Latifah Coleman and Stephanie Mavunga.

And in the final minutes of fouls and free throws, senior Brittany Rountree sealed the win for UNC, going 8-8 from behind the line in the last 30 seconds. Her 9 points came from free throws alone.

“The free throws, we do a lot of those in practice,” Rountree said. “Coach (Andrew) Calder and Coach Hatchell challenge us so I mean, it just comes with practice. It’s something that I’m used to and my teammates and coaches depend on me so I don’t let them down. I kind of like being in those situations, especially silencing the crowd.”

N.C. State’s offense was led by Len’Nique Brown with 21 points and Dominique Wilson with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jennifer Mathurin, a 6’1” forward, posed as a double threat to Carolina as a big presence in the post and a scorer from outside. Mathurin shot 3-7 from the three point line.

Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore maintains hopes of keeping an NCAA tournament berth a realistic goal for his team, but he says he knows they’re running out of time.

“The thing about this league is it’s probably the strongest in the country,” Coach Moore said. “If you can get some signature wins, you still have a chance. We’re 3-3, but again we don’t have a signature win or two that we need and we’ve got to find a way to get that.”

The Tar Heels will continue to be that signature team to beat for the remainder of the season. Next up for UNC comes a home court showdown against another rival this weekend. No. 15 Duke, who is now 13-6 on the season and 4-2 in the ACC, travels to Carmichael Sunday at 5 p.m.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-wbb-makes-comeback-win-beat-state/

The Rivalry Continues: UNC WBB vs. NC State

In the 100th meeting between the in-state rivals, No. 12 UNC travels to Raleigh to play the NC State Wolfpack Thursday evening in Reynolds Coliseum.

State and Carolina have already met once this season, resulting in a Tar Heel 72-56 victory on January 4th in Chapel Hill.

Stephanie Mavunga was on a hot streak that week, scoring 23 points while adding 12 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Allisha Gray, who was recently listed as a Wooden Award Midseason contender, averages 13.3 points in the three games she has played against the Wolfpack.

This match-up is nicknamed the ACC’s oldest rivalry in terms of women’s basketball, and NC State holds the all-time record at 51-48.

But with NC State only shooting 30.3 percent against the Carolina defense in their first meeting this season, the Tar Heels are looking to quickly catch up.

Tip-off is in Raleigh at 7 p.m. We will have the broadcast for you on 97.9 FM WCHL.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/rivalry-continues-unc-wbb-vs-nc-state/

Carolina WBB Tames The Tigers

Jessica Washington’s career high 20 points lifted No. 12 UNC past Clemson in a 78-56 win Sunday afternoon in Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tar Heels are now 16-3, 3-2 in conference match-ups. With the loss, the Tigers drop to 1-5 in the ACC with a 9-10 overall record.

Washington had an electric shooting game, scoring 4 three-pointers to add to an impressive 7-11 from the field.

But it was quite an even effort for UNC. Sophomore Stephanie Mavunga scored 15 points, while freshman Jamie Cherry added 12 and sophomore Allisha Gray finished with 10.

Clemson’s Nikki Dixon had 17 points, 13 of which game were scored on freethrows. The Tigers have now lost five straight conference games after winning its first against Virginia Tech.

Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell also continues to capitalize on her skillful reserves. The Tar Heel bench added 41 points as the Tigers were down 45-24 at the half.

Huge runs throughout the game, as well as a 53 percent shooting stat, lifted UNC to its third conference win of the season. The Tar Heels will try to maintain toward the top of the ACC with a hopeful win over NC State Thursday in Raleigh at 7 p.m. State and Carolina have already met once this season, resulting in a Tar Heel 72-56 victory in Chapel Hill.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-wbb-tames-tigers/

Notre Dame Trumps UNC, Now 2-2 in ACC

The No. 12 North Carolina women’s basketball team knew the importance of playing No. 7 Notre Dame, especially at home.

It was the Tar Heels’ chance at cementing a spot atop the ACC, and it was a chance to win a statement game that would have sent a signal to the rest of the nation. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, that chance was missed.

In an emotional loss, Carolina fell to the Fighting Irish, 89-79, at home on Thursday, to drop to an even 2-2 mark in the ACC and 15-3 overall. Notre Dame improved to 16-2 and 4-1 in the conference.

With two very skilled teams, Thursday’s contest came down to a matter of toughness. The game included 11 ties and four lead changes, and Notre Dame fought hard to try to kick-start their next attempt at a 30-plus away game streak that was snapped earlier this month in a loss at Miami.

“Well, we’re extremely disappointed. So that’s about all I can say. Turner was tough. I thought we made a good run at them, and got it down to one point, but just didn’t have enough fire power, I guess. I guess that’s why she was the best player coming out last year because she was tough. [Lindsay] Allen was really tough up there, too. We’ll just regroup and move on,” UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell says.

UNC forward Stephanie Mavunga wasn’t her usual self offensively, finishing with 6 points and 7 rebounds, and with junior forward Xylina McDaniel out indefinitely, Carolina struggled defensively in the paint.

Notre Dame star Brianna Turner had a stat-stuffing night, finishing with career highs in points and rebounds, 29 and 18, and tying her career high in blocks with 7 swats.

Jewell Loyd, Notre Dame’s usual go-to scorer, hasn’t had a night where she scored under ten points in 60 games, but that was cut tonight as she finished with only 8 points in 36 minutes. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw knew Loyd would was knocked off of her game by an illness, but says she was proud of how her team rallied without her.

Carolina’s largest lead came with less than five minutes to play in the first half. The Tar Heels were up eleven points, but three minutes later, the game had already been tied back up by the surging Fighting Irish.

Turner continued to dominate well into the second half, and guard Lindsay Allen made a great contribution to Notre Dame’s offense from the backcourt to finish with a career high 24 points and 9 assists.

UNC went on a run late in the game to close a 14 point deficit. Allisha Gray came alive for the Tar Heels in the second half, scoring 16 points to finish with 20. Just when Carolina came within one point, a string of unfavorable calls for the Tar Heels got Coach Hatchell riled up, and many players in foul trouble.

Jessica Washington and Latifah Coleman each got off a few last second three-point attempts, but none fell, and Notre Dame finished with a victory that left Carolina heartbroken.

Muffet McGraw is now 4-1 all time against Hatchell’s North Carolina team.

But Coach Hatchell vows to make amends soon.

“I thought the effort was good. We had trouble keeping people out there, but I thought we played hard. We just didn’t get it done enough. We’ll keep working. We’ll get them eventually. Trust me, we’ll get them eventually,” Coach Hatchell says.

Up next for the Tar Heels are two away games against Clemson and NC State, before returning to Carmichael in ten days to play rival Duke.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/notre-dame-trumps-unc-now-2-2-acc/

UNC Battles Another Big Opponent in Notre Dame

Two Hall of Fame head coaches, two nationally ranked teams and two dynamite women’s basketball programs makes for one highly anticipated ACC match-up.

The North Carolina women’s basketball team has now dropped to No. 12 nationally, but is looking to make quite a statement with a hopeful win over seventh-ranked Notre Dame. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.

In last game’s win over Georgia Tech, coach Sylvia Hatchell dug deep into her bench to give more of her players significant minutes, and that ability is one thing she says separates her team from many others in the division.

“We had quite a few of them go in and play significant minutes and make major contributions, and that’s one of the strengths of our team,” Coach Hatchell said. “It’s our balance and our depth. The kids know I have confidence in them and I just told them to be ready when called upon because (they) know when there’s times we’ll need (them) out there so to just be ready.”

Both teams hold equal records at 15-2, but the Fighting Irish are 3-1 in the ACC while UNC is at 2-1. Thursday makes Notre Dame’s first ever visit to Chapel Hill, and in Notre Dame’s last away game on January 8, their NCAA record-tying 30-road-game streak was clipped by Miami.

Legendary coach Muffet McGraw’s squad also has some experience with tough contenders. Along side UNC, Notre Dame has also beaten four top-25 teams this season.

Stephanie Mavunga, undoubtedly one of North Carolina’s biggest weapons, is a product of Indiana, and will rejoin a few former teammates in Notre Dame sophomores Taya (TAY-uh) Reimer and Lindsay Allen. But it will be strictly a game of competition for the Tar Heels, because the Fighting Irish are no team to take lightly.

“Our game plan for them is they’ve got some really really great players for their three-point shooters so stopping some of the tendencies they like to do,” Coach Hatchell said. “They’re a very good passing team and a very good shooting team, they’ll jump out there at different times with different defenses – so those are some things that we’ve got to be prepared for as we play a very good team like this.”

The next challenge for Carolina includes back-to-back road games with trips to Clemson on Sunday and NC State next Thursday.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-battles-another-big-opponent-notre-dame/

Now 2-1 in ACC, UNC Bounces Back From Tough Loss

After a blow-out loss to unranked Pitt earlier this week, No. 8 North Carolina women’s basketball needed some redemption. They got just that Sunday afternoon with a 96-81 win over Georgia Tech at Carmichael Arena to give head coach Sylvia Hatchell her 950th career win. The Tar Heels are now 15-2 on the season and 2-1 in the ACC. With the loss, the Yellow Jackets fall to 12-6 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

Carolina was led in scoring once again by sophomore standouts Stephanie Mavunga and Allisha Gray. The duo combined for 35 of Carolina’s points as well as 21 rebounds.

The high-scoring game was a confidence booster for UNC – all but one active player scored for the Tar Heels, creating 38 much needed points from bench players including nine from junior Hillary Fuller.

“Fuller is tough, now, and she’s just going to get better and better,” Coach Hatchell said. “She loves the contact and she won’t flinch a bit, she just loves it. And I call her ‘Mayor’ because she’s just like, ‘what do you need me to do?’ She doesn’t have to get the praise or anything she’s just like ‘Coach. What do you need me to do?’”

Carolina began the game at a sluggish pace, missing numerous opportunities to score in transition and clinch a large early lead. Finally, UNC found its rhythm and prevented Georgia Tech from playing a game of catch-up, led by one of two triples knocked down by sophomore Jessica Washington, who scored a career high 16.

Washington, along with Junior N’Dea Bryant, saved the Tar Heels’ offense when Mavunga hit her first half shooting slump at only 2-8, reminiscent of her struggles under the basket at Pitt.

“I do agree that we have to step up a lot more,” Mavunga said. “We’re still adjusting (without Xylina McDaniel) for sure, but I think we’re bouncing back slowly but surely.”

The largest lead of the half was set at 17 and Carolina led 50-35 at intermission.

Georgia Tech never recovered thereafter, only coming within 13 points after a made freethrow by Zaire O’Neil with less than 8 minutes remaining in the game. Tech’s leading scorer, Kaela Davis, fouled out minutes later and was held to only 6 points. As a sophomore, Davis averages 20.7 points per game and is on track to become the fastest player in school history to reach 1,000 points.

The Yellow Jackets were led in scoring by junior Aaliyah Whiteside with 22 and Roddreka Rogers with 13 points and 11 rebounds, notching her 5th double-double of the season.

UNC is set to host a tough match against No. 4 Notre Dame this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The Fighting Irish is also 15-2 this season.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/now-2-1-acc-unc-bounces-back-tough-loss/

UNC Heads to Pitt For Second ACC Contest

With the help of two-time ACC Player of the Week sophomore Stephanie Mavunga, the North Carolina women’s basketball team has jumped one spot to eighth-best in the national rankings.

The Tar Heels hold a record of 14-1 and are set to face the 10-4 Pittsburgh Panthers Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in the Steel City.

In this past week alone, Mavunga has averaged 24.5 points on 76 percent shooting from the field as well as 10.5 rebounds. Carolina’s low post has now become hers to dominate and Mavunga looks forward to leading her team into the next conference challenge.

“I know (Assistant Coach Andrew Calder) is always yelling at me to be patient, so I think I’m being a lot more patient,” Mavunga says. “And now that Xylina is not in there, I feel like (Danielle Butts) has more of an outside game than Xylina does, and that opens up the post a little more for me.”

The Tar Heels are up against an underdog that is quickly rising through the ranks, led by senior guard Brianna Kiesel. Kiesel averages 17.9 points, and almost five rebounds and assists per game.

Allisha Gray has been key to UNC's success this season (Elliott Rubin)

Allisha Gray has been key to UNC’s success this season (Elliott Rubin)

Although Pitt is unranked, they are starting their season with their best record in years at 10-4. Before a very narrow 6-point loss to No. 7 Louisville, the Panthers had not lost a game since December 7th.

Pitt and UNC have not had a matchup on the Panthers’ home court since January 2, 1981, in which the Tar Heels fell 79-67.

The game will be broadcast on 97.9 FM, WCHL and televised on ESPN3.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-heads-pitt-second-acc-game/

Tar Heel Women Crush Wolfpack for First ACC Win

Stephanie Mavunga continued her string of dynamic games as the No. 9 UNC women’s basketball team defeated rival North Carolina State in their ACC opener Sunday afternoon, 72-56, at Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels now boast a 14-1 record with the win and the Wolfpack have fallen to 9-5.

With the absence of junior forward and All-ACC preseason selection Xylina McDaniel, UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell was concerned she had lost some fire in her front court.

“(Later in the season) you’ll probably see us do some different things because we’re still adjusting to Xylina not being out there. Just her physical presence, she’s strong and defensively she’s pretty tough out there so we’re still adjusting.”

However, since McDaniel’s unfortunate and likely season-ending lower leg injury, Mavunga has quickly stepped in place to boast career-high stats in the past two games, with a little help from her partner in the post.

“In the game two days ago, Xylina said to me ‘I’m watching you, I’m watching you more than anybody else.’ And I just froze. So she gets on me when I’m frustrated and she gives me pointers on things she sees in my game that I may not see. Even just helping me with moves, she’s a phenomenal post player. An All-American type player so I listen to her – she knows what she’s talking about.”

McDaniel’s tips have proven to pay off so far. In last game’s blowout victory over East Tennessee State, Mavunga posted a career-high 26 points on nearly perfect shooting from the floor with 93 percent accuracy. And against the Wolfpack, she was still rolling. Mavunga finished with a full stat line – 23 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and a career-high 5 assists.

UNC was assisted on the scoring boards by impressive performances by both Allisha Gray with 13 points and 12 rebounds, her 4th double-double of the season as well as senior Brittany Rountree, who netted 14 points on 4-6 three point shooting.

The Wolfpack suffered from foul trouble early in the first half, but continued to play a gritty match that slowed UNC’s ability to stretch their lead. After three fouls and only two points in the first 20 minutes of play, NC State redshirt sophomore Domonique Wilson came back to score 13 points in the second half alone. Sophomore Miah Spencer and senior Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin each added 11 for the Pack.

NC State head coach Wes Moore says Sunday’s loss gives his team a taste of what to expect from the ACC’s list of heavy-hitting women’s basketball teams this season. In the match, North Carolina led by as many as 27 points.

“We’ll have to combat (them) with a competitive fire,” Moore said. “I hate to say this but I grew up in Texas, and we say down there it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. We’re just going to have to compete, maybe work on some defenses that mix it up a bit.”

UNC also undoubtedly honored Tar Heel alumnus and sportscaster Stuart Scott with a moment of silence at the beginning of the contest. Scott passed away Sunday morning from a lengthy battle with cancer.

Next up for North Carolina is a road trip to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-crush-wolfpack-first-acc-win/