Winter Weather Closings and Delays

Mavunga Saves UNC With Last Second Shot

A buzzer-beater lay-up by sophomore Stephanie Mavunga carried the North Carolina women’s basketball team to a 72-70 win over Virginia on Thursday in their final game of the season in historic Carmichael Arena. With the win, No. 15 North Carolina now has a 23-6 overall record and a 10-5 standing in the ACC. The Cavaliers have dropped to 16-12 this season and have closed ACC play at with a 6-9 record.

After tip-off, UVA got ahead to a tremendous start and scored the first nine points of the game. Just when it looked like they would be dominating the night with their high three-point accuracy, Mavunga and junior guard N’Dea Bryant led an 8-0 run on the comeback charge for the Tar Heels. UVA had a 12-point first half advantage over UNC, but that was quickly snapped as Carolina went on a 15-2 run to close out the half with a 35-33 lead.

UVA was led by Faith Randolph who finished with a game-high 24 points on 4-5 shooting from behind the arc.
Carolina led by as many as 10 points after the midgame break until that lead was crushed by a late scoring showdown from Randolph, who led the Hoos in the fight back to a tie at 70 points with 22 seconds left.

However, for UNC’s offensive power, the second half was all Stephanie.

With only seven seconds to play, Allisha Gray attempted a lay-up from the left side of the bucket for the winning shot. When that missed and fell on the other side of the backboard, Mavunga was there for the put back and score. She sealed the win with 0.2 seconds on the clock.

“It’s one of the greatest feelings ever,” Mavunga said. “One thing I don’t like, I don’t like going into overtime. I like winning in regulation. That was the thing. We were all saying in the huddle that we’re going to win this thing in regulation and we’re not going into overtime.”

Mavunga finished with 23 points while shooting 10-15 from the field and eight rebounds. Gray snapped her 23-game streak scoring in double figures and had a tough shooting night as she only contributed nine points. Bryant and senior Brittany Rountree were there to pick up the slack offensively as the Bryant closed out with 13 points while the senior added 10 and six rebounds.

In typical Carolina fashion, the Tar Heels said one of their first farewells to playing seniors Rountree, Latifah Coleman and Danielle Butts with a high intensity fight to the finish.

Up ahead, a road rivalry rematch against Duke on Sunday at 3 p.m. Both teams are vying to finish the regular season with the fifth spot in ACC standings.


Hatchell Recognized For Courage, Fighting Spirit

UNC women ‘s basketball head coach Sylvia Hatchell has been named the winner of the ninth annual Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award.

Announced earlier this week by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, Coach Hatchell will receive the award during the ACC Tournament in Greensboro next week.

Just weeks after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in October of 2013, Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia and was sidelined for the entire 2013-14 season as her team, coached by longtime assistant Andrew Calder, made a run to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

After undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments at UNC Lineberger, she’s returned to the bench and guided her beloved Tar Heels to a 21-6 record and 8-5 mark in the ACC so far this season.

“I’m honored and humbled by this award, and it’s even more special, because I knew Bob Bradley. It’s tough. It’s hard. But you can beat it. Every day is a blessing. Now, I try to support others who have leukemia, because I know how important it is to have that support,” Coach Hatchell says.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says, “The resiliency that Coach Hatchell displayed in her fight against leukemia was truly inspiring. I can’t think of a more deserving person for this award. She continues to be a role model for others that are currently battling the disease.”

Coach Hatchell is in her 29th season at UNC and 40th overall.

Carolina Crushes Demon Deacons 83-45

North Carolina might have grabbed its easiest win this season with an 83-45 victory over Wake Forest Thursday night in Carmichael Arena. Carolina is boosted to a 21-6 record and an 8-5 conference mark. The Demon Deacons have dropped to 10-18 overall with only one conference win.

It is pretty much impossible for a basketball team to win games when they collect almost as many turnovers as points. With a whopping 20.5 give-aways a game, Wake Forest leads the ACC in turnovers. Thursday night only boosted that average even more.

Wake Forest head coach Jen Hoover called turnovers an “Achilles Heel” for her young team, and UNC’s athleticism and trap defense only made it harder for the Demon Deacons to protect the ball.

“Unfortunately, with turnovers, they come in bunches,” Hoover said. “And once they start coming it’s hard to stop them. You saw me try to call a couple quick timeouts to try and slow things down a bit but we’ve got to continuously talk about why we’re making those turnovers and decision making. With a team like (North Carolina) the holes close up a lot faster because they are so athletic so we really talk about ball fakes and being decisive with our passes.”

By the time Wake Forest had 23 points at the end of the first half; they had already forfeited the ball 17 times and given UNC a solid 20-point lead. The Demon Deacons gave up the ball a total of 34 times that night, which led to 40 extra points for the Tar Heels.

But UNC knew how to make some noise with their own offense as well. In a balanced effort by the Tar Heels, five players scored in double digits while sophomore Stephanie Mavunga and senior Brittany Rountree added nine. The night’s leading scorer, Allisha Gray, had 16 points while playing only 15 minutes with a case of the flu. But it was safe to say Gray was not knocked off of her game.

“When she’s healthy and plays hard she can do anything she wants to do,” Coach Hatchell said with an assuring laugh.

For the Demon Deacons, their scoring came from the outside with guards Millesa Calicott and Amber Campbell who had 16 and 14, respectively. As for Wake Forest standout Dearica Hamby, the night was a frustrating one. Hamby, who Coach Hatchell referred to as a “certain first-round draft pick”, only put up seven points and 10 rebounds. This marked her first game of not scoring in double-digits since January of 2013.

Carolina’s junior guard N’Dea Bryant had the recipe for success in stifling Hamby’s game.

“I just tried to stay in front of her and just not let her body me up,” Bryant said. “Just move my feet a lot because she’s definitely bigger than me so I definitely just let her not get the ball which makes it easier for me because if she gets the ball then its tougher for me to stop her.”

Up next for UNC is a quick break from the icy air of Chapel Hill to sunny Florida to face Miami on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.


Gray Leads Victory Over FSU in Late Scoring Spree

In what many would call an upset victory, No. 17 North Carolina women’s basketball knocked down No. 7 Florida State Thursday night in Carmichael Arena, 71-63.

The Tar Heels have now clinched their twentieth win this season with only five losses. They are now 7-4 in the ACC while the Seminoles have dropped to 9-2 in the conference and 22-3 overall.

In a game of six ties and lead changes, a high-intensity battle broke out between the Seminoles and the Tar Heels. Neither team could manage a large lead for more than a few seconds, and the fast and up-tempo possessions proved both teams were fighting for the crown of the conference.

For North Carolina, junior Hillary Summers found herself in a rhythm and ended up with a career-high nine points and seven rebounds. Senior Brittany Rountree added 10 alongside sophomore Stephanie Mavunga, who finished with 11 points but was stifled under the basket by the likes of FSU’s big men.

Sophomore Ivey Slaughter posted a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds while only playing 18 minutes. Reigning ACC and ESPNW Player of the Week Adut Bulgak was held to an unusually low 9 points before fouling out with less than a minute remaining. Bulgak had 13 rebounds.

Florida State went on a 17-6 run to close the half with a seven-point lead at 34-27. But after the break, the game was all Allisha Gray. She scored 18 of her 22 points and her steal and acrobatic bucket with 53 seconds left sealed the win for Carolina. Her scoring and 14 rebounds set the tempo for UNC and shut out FSU’s chance of a late comeback.

“I think (the game was great), I have to credit Carolina,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “They had a lot of fire; they had a lot of competitive spirit in them. Allisha Gray had a great game, but I like it for us. Although we can get a little complacent and tonight we had a little bit of confusion and it’s just not like us but again, credit to Carolina for taking advantage of it.”

In every game this season, Florida State has out-rebounded their opponent. And although they won again on the glass, UNC’s second half rally included grabbing eight more boards than FSU in the final 12 minutes of the game.

Next up for UNC is a road trip to Louisville Sunday.


UNC Cruises Past VA Tech 74-52

The North Carolina women’s basketball team desperately needed a win Sunday afternoon. Not just because they were coming off a very disappointing loss to Syracuse earlier in the week, but also because UNC lost an integral part of its school and legacy, legendary men’s basketball head coach Dean Smith.

Coach Smith’s passing affected the entire University and reached into the women’s basketball program, as head coach Sylvia Hatchell was closely mentored by Smith.

“When I took the job at North Carolina, I had Dean Smith’s old office. They had moved to the Smith Center and I moved into Dean Smith’s old office. And I was nine years old when he became the head coach at UNC. Everything I did as a coach – even when I was at Francis Marion – was like, ‘OK if the North Carolina men’s team is doing that, then I’m going to try to do that.’ But he’s the reason why I wanted to go coach at North Carolina.”

It is now safe to say the Hall of Fame women’s coach is another thing UNC has to thank Dean Smith for. And Hatchell repaid him in Blacksburg, Virginia with a blowout 74-52 victory over Virginia Tech to place the Tar Heels at 19-5 and 6-4 in the ACC. The Hokies remain at the bottom of the conference with a 1-10 record and now sit at 10-14 overall.

Carolina was led in scoring by Brittany Rountree with 15 points, but was assisted on the scoreboard by a balanced effort from her teammates. Allisha Gray scored 13, freshman Jamie Cherry, in her first career start, added 11, and both Stephanie Mavunga and Latifah Coleman finished with 10 points.

UNC biggest lead came in the second half when the Tar Heels were up by 22, after a 20-4 run quickly solidified a blowout game. Carolina also had a much-improved shooting day. Rountree’s four 3-pointers made way for UNC to finish 10-25 behind the arc.
For the Hokies, guard Samantha Hill scored 11 points and forward Taijah Campbell also added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Carolina returns to Chapel Hill to host Florida State Thursday at 7 p.m. The Seminoles have only lost one conference game and are 22-2 this year.


No. 15 UNC Travels to No. 25 Syracuse Thursday

The ACC has developed into a powerhouse for basketball this season, and UNC women’s basketball is looking to beat their fifth ranked opponent with a hopeful win over No. 25 Syracuse Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.

The Tar Heels are ranked No. 15 with an 18-4 record largely due to the ACC’s Player of the Week sophomore forward Stephanie Mavunga. This is Mavunga’s third conference top player honor this season, and she is currently averaging 17.4 points and 10 rebounds over her last 10 games. In last game’s win over Boston College, she scored 25 points and grabbed her 500th career rebound.

For the Orange, Thursday’s game makes the third match in a row against a top-25 ranked team, a schedule they haven’t seen since 2005. Syracuse also has a front court threat of its own in sophomore center Briana Day. A native of Raleigh, Day leads the ACC in blocks with 3 per game and ranks second in rebounds with 11.

Syracuse and Carolina will be meeting for the fifth time. The Tar Heels own a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series, but the Orange took the last meeting last season in Chapel Hill, N.C. with a 78-73 victory. UNC was then ranked No. 6 in the country, which marked the highest ranked opponent Syracuse had ever beaten on the road.

The game will broadcast on ESPN3.

UNC Beats Boston College, 72-60

No. 16 UNC women’s basketball pulled out a 72-60 victory over Boston College on Super Bowl Sunday in Carmichael Arena. Behind a career-high game from junior N’Dea Bryant, North Carolina is now ranked 5-3 in the ACC and 18-4 overall. The BC Eagles fall to 9-12 and 1-7 in the conference.

Bryant finished with 13 points, seven rebounds as well as two steals and a blocked shot. Bryant’s minutes have been increasing steadily over the past few games, and head coach Sylvia Hatchell has been looking to her for a consistent mid-range jumper when needed.

“The position she plays, is probably the most important position on the floor,” Coach Hatchell said. “Because if you look up in the rafters, I think half of those jerseys that are honored or retired are kids that have played that position. That’s a major position for how we play – it’s a point-post type of position.”

Bryant had a lot of help that afternoon, however, as Stephanie Mavunga put up 25 points and 14 rebounds and Allisha Gray added 15 points and 15 rebounds. Gray made up for a dismal 2-14 shooting accuracy with 11 made freethrows.

Although Boston College sits at the bottom of the conference, this was no easy victory for the Tar Heels. The Eagles had an eight-point lead over Carolina with 12:37 left in the second half, and they showed no sign of slowing down.

“I thought we were going to get that one there for a while,” BC Head Coach Erik Johnson said. “North Carolina is good and we knew that coming in. But we also know that we can play. We were up at the 12-minute mark and I don’t think we scored in the last seven minutes or so. We had some good looks, we also had some lapses.”

In its the scoring slump, Boston College threw up threes in desperation to catch back up to the Tar Heels, who went on a 13-0 run in the final six minutes. BC missed its last 12 field goals.

But when Boston College was on, they were hot. Sophomores Kelly Hughes and Emilee Daley, as well as junior Nicole Boudreau closed the half with a BC lead with two three-pointers each. Hughes finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Daley and Boudreau added 13 apiece.

“Every game from here on out is key for us,” Hughes said. “It’s the ACC and we’re going to get every team’s best game every time we step on the floor. We just beat Duke in the top-15 so people have to respect us.”

Carolina suffered from a slump of its own. The Tar Heels did not score a three-pointer until the 19-minute mark of the second half. Brittany Rountree’s only long-range field goal gave UNC a three point lead after trailing 36-34 at halftime. Boston College shot 8-37 from behind the arc.

Carolina is headed up north for two road games against Syracuse and Virginia Tech on Thursday and Sunday. The Orange are tied with UNC in the conference at a 5-3 record and Virginia Tech trails slightly at 4-4.


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.


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.

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.