Hatchell looks on as No. 14 Tar Heels rip High Point
With sidelined coach Sylvia Hatchell looking on from the observation deck in the lofts of Carmichael Arena, an inspired UNC team flush with four freshmen starters scored in triple digits for the fourth time this season, breezing past outmatched but tenacious High Point 103-71 Saturday.
The No. 14 Tar Heels improved to 11-2 and finished with six players scoring in double figures.
“That was impressive. I thought the team did a good job of finding the open players,” said UNC associate head coach Andrew Calder, who has filled in all season for Hatchell.
“I appreciate Coach Hatchell being at the game today,” Calder said. “I want to thank her again for continuing to help us as we go into each game.”
Hatchell, in her 28th season with UNC, owner of 908 career coaching wins and a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in September, is undergoing treatment for leukemia.
She was showered with hearty pre-game applause from the UNC faithful when she was shown on the arena’s big screen. She smiled, waved and blew kisses.
“She helps us with the game plan and the motivation of the players,” Calder said.
“She was here last Sunday. She greeted them as they left to go to the beach,” he said. “She was here at the office yesterday for about two hours. She wanted to stay for practice but couldn’t. She wanted to make sure she was rested for today. But she does communicate with them and texts on a regular basis.”
“We miss her a lot, so being able to see her face before the game was exciting,” said sophomore guard Xylina McDaniel, who led the Tar Heel scorers with 16 points and eight rebounds.
“It feels really good to see her up there watching us play,” said freshman guard Jessica Washington. “I know she gets to watch us play on the computer, and TV and stuff. But just being able to see her up there is exciting for the team.”
Despite the lopsided score, High Point coach DeUnna Hendrix found solace in knowing that her team scored the third most points against UNC this year. The only teams to score more beat the Tar Heels — No. 4 Tennessee 81-65 and Arizona State 94-81 in overtime.
“We haven’t really worried too much about scoring because we’ve been putting up 73, but to put up 71 against them says even more about what we can do,” Hendrix said.
UNC, the nation’s No. 2 team in field goal percentage defense, was giving up just 58 points per game entering Saturday’s contest. Calder wasn’t worried about the Panthers’ point production.
“I would rather it had not been that” many points, he said. “If you get a lot of possessions there’s going to be more points by the other team, but I thought we had some defensive breakdowns communication-wise that we have to do a little better job with.”
His goal is to keep the other team shooting under 40 percent from the floor. High Point shot 35 percent on field goals while UNC made 48.6 percent of its shots.
The fans anticipated another 100-point Carolina game, and erupted into appreciative applause when freshman guard Allisha Gray hit her first of two free throws at 1:15 to send the score into triple digits. That was part of an incredible 15-2 run to finish out the last 4:44 of play. Gray finished with 14 points, her team high 11th time in double digits.
“Playing good defense to get us going gets you points, and rebounds and assists. It’s pretty good motivation to just keep going and trying to get triple digits,” Washington said.
Calder downplayed the high-scoring affair, the third time in the past four games the Tar Heels have broken the century mark. UNC beat Charleston Southern 100-49 on Dec. 14 and New Orleans 121-41 Dec. 16. They beat Coastal Carolina 106-52 on Nov. 21.
“I know it makes a lot of fans happy if there’s a more numbers on our side than the other side, but we’re just trying to get better because we think we can be really special at the end,” Calder said.
“I would be more happy with the six assists and no turnovers,” he told Washington, referring to her individual stats. She also scored 12, draining three 3-pointers and nailing three free throws.
UNC outrebounded the Panthers 51-32, and Calder singled out 5-foot-10 guard Danielle Butts, who had 5 rebounds and 14 points.
“She got up on a couple of rebounds, a couple of lob plays there in front of the rim that were super-impressive,” Calder said.
NOTES — UNC got a scare when freshman guard Diamond DeShields, the Tar Heels leading scorer at 16 points per game, raced downcourt for a fast-break layup but got tangled up and fouled by a Panthers player. DeShields writhed on the floor, yelled in agony and was replaced by junior Brittany Rountree for the remainder of the game. Calder said DeShields was taken for precautionary X-rays. “The left hand injury is negative. She’ll be fine,” he said.
High Point junior guard Ashante Richard, a Northern High School product, scored 2 points and had 5 assists. “We rely on her a lot just for her defense, really get after it, harass the point guard a little bit,” Hendrix said. “She’s going to be a huge part in what we do now in losing Tayler Tremblay, our senior point guard” who is No. 15 on High Point’s D-I career scoring list.
|No. 14 NORTH CAROLINA 103, HIGH POINT 71|
Percentages: FG .353, FT .818.
3-Point Goals: 5-23, .217 (Vincent 4-10, Patterson 1-3, Puckett 0-2, Keys 0-8).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Robertson 3, Johnson, Puckett).
Turnovers: 18 (Keys 6, Patterson 4, Richard 2, Vincent 2, Puckett 2, Michalska, Jackson).
Steals: 7 (Patterson 3, Phelps, Jackson, Richard, Keys).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .486, FT .718.
3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (Washington 3-5, Rountree 2-8, Coleman 1-1, Gray 1-2, Mavunga 0-1, DeShields 0-1, McDaniel 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Bryant, McDaniel, Summers).
Turnovers: 16 (Mavunga 4, McDaniel 3, Gray 3, Coleman 2, Bryant, Butts, Johnson, Fuller).
Steals: 12 (Butts 4, Rountree 3, Gray 2, Washington, DeShields, Coleman).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Billy Smith, Fatou Cissoko-Stephens, Tony Lippa.