UNC Holds Out for 71-67 Win

The North Carolina women’s basketball team picked up its second consecutive win with a suspenseful 71-67 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night in Carmichael Arena. UNC now stands at 12-7 on the season with a 4-7 ACC record.

The nail-biting victory came at the hands of several Tar Heels, with four players scoring double digits. Freshman guard Stephanie Watts once again led Carolina with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Redshirt junior forward Hillary Summers completed her seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Jamie Cherry contributed 15 points and five assists. Freshman guard Destinee Walker added 17 points.

The Hokies, now 15-9 on the season, were led by senior forward Hannah Young’s 22 points, followed by junior guard Vanessa Panousis, who contributed 14 points.

“We shot almost 50 percent and I thought that was pretty good because they’re a really good team,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “They’ve had some big wins and some excellent players and some excellent shooters. They’re a great perimeter shooting team, but these guys have just continued to get better and better. We’re light-years away from where we were in November and that’s because they’ve worked hard.”

North Carolina jumped ahead quickly, as the Tar Heels played with energy and tenacity, forcing Hokies head coach Dennis Wolff to call an early timeout with about three minutes remaining in the first period after a Destinee Walker three-pointer, her first of three on the night. UNC would lead 23-10 by the end of the period.

North Carolina had a somewhat lofty lead at halftime, winning 38-21 after making four of their last five shots in the period, and shooting 50 percent at the half. The first half also featured a 46 percent three-pointer completion rate for UNC.

“We did a great job of jumping out at the beginning, as we haven’t been doing in our past couple games that we’ve been losing,” Cherry said. “We actually tied a third quarter and that was our coach’s biggest deal, was to win the third quarter. Even though they outscored us in the fourth, we still hung tough and we stayed poised down the stretch as we did at Boston College and we did tonight.”

What eventually allowed the Hokies to climb right back into the game, despite never achieving a lead and never tying more than once, was not UNC’s usual dreaded third period. What almost did the Tar Heels in was their fourth period, in which they allowed the Hokies to score 24 points, compared to their 11 points.

North Carolina entered the final period of the game with what may have been assumed as a potentially comfortable lead at 60-43, but a 60 percent field-goal percentage and a 66 percent three-point percentage brought the Hokies right up to speed with the Tar Heels. UNC stalled in the first six minutes or so of the final period, scoring only two points and allowing Virginia Tech to creep back within eight points at 62-54.

A 20-4 run eventually relinquished North Carolina’s lead to just one point, at 64-63 with only 44 seconds remaining in the game. A game of cat and mouse, the Tar Heels and Hokies exchanged fouls as the seconds on the clock eventually ticked away. UNC went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line in order to secure the win.

Perhaps the biggest of the free-throws were Erika Johnson’s two baskets. Johnson, a redshirt senior forward, is a 39 percent free-throw shooter on the season.

“They’ve had great attitudes and they’re just fun to be around,” Hatchell said. “They make it exciting, that’s for sure. Foul shooting was big, we went 20-for-22 from the foul line and that was major. A good balance with our scoring, we out-rebounded. That was big. It’s fun to win and now we got to get ready for Florida. These guys did a great job”

Next for North Carolina is a two o’clock road game on Sunday at Florida State University.



UNC WBB Returns to Win Column

The North Carolina Tar Heels are back over .500 with their Sunday afternoon 86-78 win over Boston College in the Conte Forum. The team now stands at 13-12 on the season.

Redshirt junior forward Hillary Summers led UNC with a career-high 23 points and also contributed nine rebounds for a near double-double. Sophomore guard Jamie Cherry followed Summers with 21 points and 6 assists.

Senior guard N’Dea Bryant added 16 points and 6 assists, while freshmen guards Destinee Walker and Stephanie Watts pitched in with 12 points each.

This marks UNC’s first win since Jan. 7, a positive sign for the team, as they had previously lost their past seven games in a row.

The game against the Eagles marked Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell’s completion of her second suspension. Hatchell was serving a suspension sanctioned from the NCAA due to a Level III violation of rules regarding game day introduction simulations of prospects during an official visit.

The game marks five losses in a row for an also struggling Boston College team. The Eagles were led by junior guard Nicole Boudreau, who produced a career-high 26 points. Boudreau was followed by sophomore guard Kelly Hughes’ 17 points and freshman center Mariella Fasoula’s 14.

The Eagles had nine three-pointers in the first half alone, earning them a 42-36 lead entering intermission.

The game featured four ties and 10 lead changes, but it was North Carolina’s impressive third and fourth period showing that put them over the top.

After much back and forth, North Carolina gained and held onto the lead with 8:19 remaining in the fourth period off a Walker three-pointer. Usually plagued by a slow start after halftime, the Tar Heels shot a blazing 66.7 percent from the field in the second half, which cemented their win.

UNC next hosts Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. in Carmichael Arena on Thursday night.



UNC Loses to No. 13 Louisville

North Carolina set a new record in Thursday night’s game against Louisville in Carmichael Arena. The record, allowing a season-high 35 points in one period, led to UNC’s demise, as they fell 78-60 to the undefeated Cardinals.

The Tar Heels, now 12-12 on the season, were coming off a 49-78 loss against N.C. State in which the team lacked spark without head coach Sylvia Hatchell directing from the bench. Coach Hatchell was serving the first of her two suspensions, with the initial suspension being university-sanctioned due to her contact with an official on Jan. 24 against Duke.

Stephanie Watts, a freshman guard, said the team plays entirely different within Hatchell’s presence. The team was under assistant coach Andrew Calder’s guide for their N.C. State loss.

“It’s a whole different team; a whole different atmosphere when coach Hatchell’s there. She just brings such a passion and love for the game that it just rubs off onto us. You have no choice, but to just elevate to her level of intensity.”

Hatchell touched on her battle with leukemia as a source of toughness in her life that she pulls from in order to motivate her players during their seven game losing streak.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I went seven months not knowing whether I was going to live or die. I learned a lot. I’m pretty tough and you don’t know how strong you can be until strong is all you have. I’ve tried to teach them the toughness that I have and how to win through adversity.”

Despite Coach Hatchell’s return and early lead changes that kept North Carolina right in the game until nearly halfway through the third period, the Cardinals overpowered the Tar Heels. Louisville produced 17 points off offensive rebounds compared to North Carolina’s four, as well as Louisville’s 26 points off the bench compared to UNC’s six.

In a game that had four ties and four lead changes, Watts led North Carolina with 16 points. In addition, Hillary Summers, a redshirt junior forward, produced her sixth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Destinee Walker added 12 points.

Summers, who is admittedly playing through some knee pain, said her improved play this season has stemmed from her inspiration to be more of a leader to her teammates.

“I’m doing just anything I can to help my team out. They’re really good at passing me the ball and then we’re learning the plays better and learning how to really work the offense, so I’m just doing what I can to help us win.”

Hatchell said while her athletes are building endurance with each game played, it is a difficult challenge to balance her rotation with such a short bench. With senior Xylina McDaniel out for the season due to injury, only six players got in on the action.

“Sometimes whenever a player makes a mistake and I want to take them out to talk to them I’m ‘OK, who am I going to substitute? Or am I going to call a timeout? Or am I going to try, when we have a dead ball, try to say something to them?’ It’s definitely different.”

Watts said early excitement about a lead eventually turned to disappointment with the game’s eventual turnaround. North Carolina entered halftime with a 32-28 lead, but ended the third period down 63-52.

“I think us just having a little bit of a lead in the first half, we were pumped up, fired up, ready to go, but once they took the lead they had a little bit of a momentum shift and that got us down a little bit. We just weren’t able to recover from it.”

Louisville was led by freshmen – Mariya Moore’s 22 points was the game-high, followed by Asia Durr’s 21 points.

“I felt like they went hard the whole time they were out there. I was really focused on my team and getting us back in the groove, rather than what they were doing,” Moore said.

Next up for UNC is a Sunday matinee at Boston College at 1 p.m. The game will mark Coach Hatchell’s second suspension. Despite the rough times that come along with a losing streak, Hatchell said the team will have plenty to fight for during their matchup with Eagles.

“I told them in the locker room, you have three things on Sunday. First of all, Xylina, because of her surgery was today. Play for ‘Z’ because she won’t be there. I won’t be there. Also, they’re going to play for [assistant coach] Sylvia Crawley because she was the head coach at Boston College. I’ll put Coach Crawley in charge of making sure they are fired up and ready to play up there because that’ll be a pride factor.”



Sylvia Hatchell Suspended 2 Games

UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell has been suspended for two games based on different incidents.

Hatchell was suspended for one game by the university for making contact with an official during the Tar Heels’ game at Duke on January 24. Hatchell will serve that suspension on Sunday, January 31.

The NCAA is also suspending Hatchell for a separate game for a Level III violation of rules pertaining to activities that simulate game day introductions of prospects during an official visit. Assistant coach Tracey Williams-Johnson will serve a one-game suspension for the same violation of rules. Hatchell will serve that suspension during the game at Boston College on February 7. Williams-Johnson will serve her suspension against Louisville on February 4.

“I place a high value on sportsmanship for myself, my team and the University,” says Hatchell. “My actions at Duke were out of character and do not reflect the deep respect for our sport and its officials. And we unintentionally broke a rule during a recruiting visit, a mistake we will not make again. I accept responsibility for these mistakes and look forward to returning for the remainder of the year to coach this incredible group of women.”

“We have tremendous respect for Coach Hatchell, but it’s important that we hold ourselves accountable for issues involving sportsmanship and compliance, even when mistakes are made inadvertently,” says Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “Each of us in the athletic department will learn valuable lessons from these situations and hopefully avoid missteps such as these in the future.”

Associate head coach Andrew Calder will lead the team during Hatchell’s absence.


Duke Tops UNC Women’s Basketball

The North Carolina Tar Heels women’s basketball team dropped a Sunday afternoon matchup against rival Duke over the weekend.

Three Tar Heels scored in double figures but it was not enough for Carolina as Duke came away with the 71-55 victory.

Duke’s Azura Stevens led the Blue Devils with a game-high 26 points and 14 rebounds.

Duke carried a one-possession lead into the half but came out firing in the third quarter, scoring the first eight points of the period.

The third quarter proved to be the demise for the Tar Heels as Carolina made only two field goals and scored a season-low six points in the period that ended with a 51-40 lead for Duke.

Jamie Cherry led the Tar Heels with 16 points. Freshman Stephanie Watts notched her fifth double-double on the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. N’Dea Bryant also registered a double-double for Carolina with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Carolina will play NC State at two o’clock Saturday afternoon in Raleigh at Broughton High School’s Holiday Gymnasium.


UNC Women’s Basketball Drops 4th Straight

The University of North Carolina men’s basketball team celebrated a win this week over Wake Forest University, however, the women’s team cannot say the same.

The Demon Deacons bested the Tar Heels Thursday night 75-63 in Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

The loss now marks four in a row for Carolina.

Despite the recent losses, freshman Stephanie Watts has been showing more promise than ever in what is turning out to be an impressive rookie season for the freshman. Watts recorded her fourth double-double with a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out within the last two minutes of the game. Sophomore Jamie Cherry contributed 18 points.

Wake Forest’s rounded efforts included 18 points from Elisa Penna, 16 from Ariel Stephenson and 13 from Ataijah Taylor.

North Carolina did not secure a lead the entire game, making it a uphill battle from the start. The Tar Heels only managed to tie the Demon Deacons for eight seconds of the 40 minutes, despite Watts’ grand showing and Carolina’s 25 points off Wake Forest turnovers.

Cherry’s six points in the first period kept the Tar Heels well within reach, ending the period down just 17-14. Wake Forest’s lead grew to be sizeable after the second period when the Demon Deacons had 18 points in the paint compared to UNC’s four, marking the score at 36-24.

Wake Forest, at most, led by 18 points, on several different occasions, with the last 18-point lead coming with a little under six minutes remaining in the game at 65-47. The Tar Heels came within 10 points of Wake Forest in the fourth, as close as they would get in the second half.

Carolina will next play at three o’clock on Sunday afternoon as they visit Duke University.


UNC Women’s Basketball Falls to No. 21 Miami

The UNC women’s basketball team fell 76-61 in Carmichael Arena on Sunday night to the University of Miami.

With its third consecutive loss against conference opponents, Carolina is on a losing streak on the court and the recent loss of senior leader Xylina McDaniel doesn’t help. McDaniel, a 6’2” forward, will miss the remainder of the 2015-2016 season as a result of a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her knee suffered in UNC’s game against Georgia Tech.

McDaniel will be a key loss for Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell’s Tar Heels, as the forward has been a key part of Carolina women’s basketball her past four years, as she recently reached the 1,000 career points mark.

Without McDaniel, Carolina tried to rally. Freshman Stephanie Watts led the team in scoring with 19 points and nine rebounds.

In addition, red-shirt junior Hillary Summers contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds and senior N’Dea Bryant had 12 points and 10 rebounds. It was Bryant’s second double-double of the season and Summers’ fifth, good enough to tie for second most in the ACC.

University of Miami guard Adrienne Motley led the Hurricanes with 20 points, as Laura Cornelius and Jessica Thomas each had 13 points.

Despite the score, the game remained close in the first three periods. Although there were impressive individual numbers for several Tar Heels, Carolina was never able to truly maintain control of the game, with UNC’s largest lead coming in the form of only two points in the first period.

UNC ended the first period down 21-17 and that lead differential only slightly grew for Miami by halftime, when the Hurricanes led 41-35. It was the Hurricanes that managed to eventually break away with a game-high 19-point lead in the fourth with a little under three minutes remaining.

The team faces North Carolina opponents for the rest of the month, however, no games will be taking place in Carmichael Arena. Up next is a match against Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem at seven o’clock Thursday night.


UNC Senior Xylina McDaniel Tears ACL

UNC senior forward Xylina McDaniel will miss the rest of her senior season after tearing her anterior curciate ligament and meniscus in her right knee Thursday night in Atlanta.

McDaniel suffered the ACL tear during the first half of the Tar Heels matchup with Georgia Tech, according to the university.

The Yellow Jackets won the game 80-73.

McDaniel recently reached the 1,000 point benchmark for her career. The senior has averaged 8.7 points and 6.8 rebounds this season.

UNC will be back in action on Sunday when the Tar Heels host No. 21 Miami at 12:30.


UNC Women’s Basketball Falls at Georgia Tech

A fourth quarter surge led Georgia Tech to a victory over the UNC women’s basketball team on Thursday night at McCarnish Pavilion.

The Yellow Jackets got off to a fast start behind the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading scorer Aaliyah Whiteside, who scored seven early points to help Georgia Tech to a 12-2 advantage. Carolina then rattled off an 8-0 scoring run before Georgia Tech answered back with seven of the next 10 points for a 24-15 lead at the end of the first period.

A strong second quarter performance from the Tar Heels led to a 38-35 deficit at halftime.

The tight game continued with Carolina taking its first lead of the game at 57-56 with 2.5 seconds left in the third quarter on two Jamie Cherry free throws.

The Tar Heels were up 69-65 with 3:44 left to play when Georgia Tech went on an 11-2 scoring run to give the Yellow Jackets the winning advantage.

Whiteside led all scorers in the game with 27 points for the Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets moved to 11-7 on the season and 1-4 in conference play.

Carolina, now 12-7 overall and 2-2 in the ACC, was led in scoring by Cherry with 15 points. N’Dea Bryant scored 14 off the bench, Destinee Walker added 12 points and Hillary Summers scored 11 of her own for the Tar Heels.

UNC will be back in action on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 hosting No. 21 Miami. The game will be carried live on 97.9 FM/1360 AM WCHL.


Notre Dame Snaps UNC Women’s Basketball Winning Streak

The University of North Carolina women’s basketball team suffered its first conference loss on Sunday afternoon in Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame overpowered the Tar Heels and came away with an 88-54 win to improve to 15-1. With the loss, UNC is now 12-6 overall and 2-1 in conference play.

The Fighting Irish’s combination of four players in double figures and 42 points off the bench completed the team effort to remain perfect in conference play. UNC scored the first few points of the game, but the largest and last lead came near the end of the first period with only a three-point advantage.

Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale came off the bench for 16 points, a team-high. Aside from an impressive offensive front, the Fighting Irish held Carolina defensively, limiting Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell’s Tar Heels to a dull field-goal percentage of 30.

The Tar Heels trailed by 36 points with less than a minute remaining in the fourth period, the largest gap in the game, after returning from halftime down 47-27.

Freshman guard Stephanie Watts, last Monday’s ACC Women’s Basketball Rookie of the Week, was held to only six points, despite nearly accomplishing a triple-double in Carolina’s last game against Syracuse.

Freshman guard Destinee Walker led the team with 12 points, while sophomore guard Jamie Cherry contributed 10 points. Senior forward Xylina McDaniel reached her sixth career double-double with 12 rebounds and 10 points.

UNC next plays on Thursday, Jan. 14, in a faceoff against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.