Freshman Diamond DeShields scored eight points in the final 2:18 to help No. 13 North Carolina pull out a 69-65 victory over Wake Forest in Thursday’s nightcap of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
DeShields, the only player in double figures for the Tar Heels (23-8), finished with 17 points. Sixth-seeded UNC will face No. 3-seed Maryland today at 8 p.m. (Fox Sports Carolinas) in the tournament quarterfinals.
“DeShields wants that big shot; she’ll tell you that,” UNC associate head coach Andrew Calder said. “Here’s the bottom line, ... DeShields has made big shots in games that we’ve needed. You’re going to give her the ball at the end, out of loyalty to her, that she’s going to get the job done.
“She wants to be in that moment, and we want her in that moment. ... She wants the ball in her hands.”
DeShields gave UNC a 61-60 lead with 2:18 left, but Dearica Hamby hit a pair of free throws to put Wake Forest ahead 18 seconds later. Hamby finished with a game-high 29 points after posting 19 in the first half.
DeShields responded with her only 3-pointer of the night for a 64-62 lead by the Tar Heels, who never trailed again. Xylina McDaniel added a power move inside for UNC, and DeShields made 1 of 2 free throws with 26.4 seconds left.
Chelsea Douglas, who finished with 20 points, connected on a 3-pointer to pull the Demon Deacons (15-16) to within two, but DeShields closed the scoring with a pair of free throws with 10.4 seconds left.
The Tar Heels shot just 36.7 percent from the field, while Wake Forest was at 44.2 percent. But UNC made 19 of 25 free throws, and the Deacs struggled to improve to 15 of 23 with a strong second half.
“We’ve got to play better,” Calder said. “I’m not a coach that says, ‘Survive and go to the next game.’ I don’t like it if you don’t play well. ... You’ve got to carry one game to the next game.
“Today, maybe it was just getting used to the facility — I don’t know.”
The Tar Heels struggled on both ends of the floor most of the first half, trailing 39-27 at intermission, but picked up the pressure in the second half.
Brittany Rountree came off the bench to sink a 3-pointer 26 seconds into the second half, and Stephanie Mavunga powered inside for a field goal before DeShields drove the baseline for a reverse layup to pull UNC to within 39-34 before a power outage delayed the game for 23 minutes at the 16:19 mark.
UNC scored the next seven points after the break, with McDaniel connecting on a 3-pointer before Latifah Coleman and DeShields sank a pair of free throws each for a 41-39 by the Tar Heels with 15:05 left.
Wake scored the next seven points to lead 46-41, but the Tar Heels went on a 9-1 surge that included a drive inside by Butts for a layup to take a 48-46 lead with 10:40 left.
UNC freshman center Stephanie Mavunga, who finished with seven points and five rebounds, picked up her fourth foul with 12:26 left and did not return to the lineup.
“They were making adjustments up at the top to put her into a ball-screen situation, and she was having trouble containing the girl coming off the screen,” Calder said of the lineup adjustment.
The Tar Heels got off to a rocky start, missing their first five shots including four from outside the 3-point arc. But DeShields drove the baseline for a layup to get the Tar Heels on the board at 7-2 with 17:33 left.
Gray sank consecutive 3-pointers, and Mavunga scored inside on an assist from DeShields to give the Tar Heels their only lead of the half at 10-9 with 14:36 remaining.
After that, Hamby gave the Deacs a 9-2 run, then provided six more points during a 12-7 spurt through the 3:40 mark for a 30-19 lead.
A three-point play by Danielle Butts cut the lead to eight, but Douglas’ 3-pointer returned the margin to 11 with 2:57 left in the half.
If the Tar Heels thought they had an edge when Hamby picked up her third foul with 2:24 remaining, Douglas erased that idea by driving inside on three straight possessions for a 39-25 advantage. Mavunga’s basket inside at the buzzer trimmed the margin to 39-27 at halftime.
NOTES — The ACC announced that today’s first quarterfinal game, which features N.C. State and Syracuse, will tip off at noon. The start of the game was pushed back an hour because of winter weather that was expected to hamper travel in the morning. ... The Notre Dame-Florida State game will start at 2 p.m., also an hour later than the original schedule. ... Calder said guard Allisha Gray was held out of the latter part of the game as a precautionary measure and will be evaluated before today’s game.
|No. 13 NORTH CAROLINA 69, WAKE FOREST 65|
Percentages: FG .442, FT .652.
3-Point Goals: 4-15, .267 (Douglas 2-7, Calicott 2-7, Hamby 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 6.
Blocked Shots: 0.
Turnovers: 26 (Douglas 7, Calicott 5, Ball 4, Hamby 3, Atkinson 3, Brunori 2, Wright, Taylor).
Steals: 6 (Hamby 3, Brunori, Quinn, Atkinson).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .367, FT .760.
3-Point Goals: 6-21, .286 (Gray 2-6, Washington 1-2, Rountree 1-3, McDaniel 1-4, DeShields 1-5, Coleman 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 3 (McDaniel, Washington, DeShields).
Turnovers: 22 (DeShields 7, McDaniel 3, Gray 3, Mavunga 3, Washington 2, Butts 2, Coleman, Rountree).
Steals: 15 (Coleman 3, DeShields 3, Rountree 2, McDaniel 2, Mavunga 2, Gray, Butts, Washington).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Dennis DeMayo, Ed Sidlasky, Luis Gonzalez.