Tar Heels win Carolina clash

Mar. 30, 2014 @ 11:24 PM

North Carolina guard Diamond DeShields left the game twice in the first half – once after twisting her ankle and once after banging her knee – and after the game sported ice packs on a shin that swelled up after it was kicked.

Tar Heels center Stephanie Mavunga said she had would wait until she got in the shower to see how many kinds of scratches she got battling South Carolina’s post players underneath.

Still, the freshmen couldn’t have been happier on Sunday night. In a bruising game against border-state rivals, No. 12 UNC advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional final with a 65-58 win over No. 8 South Carolina at Maples Pavilion.

DeShields had 19 points and Mavunga had 13 points and nine rebounds as the fourth-seeded Tar Heels led the entire way and beat a No. 1 seed for the first time since the 1994 national championship season.

“It was a very physical battle,” Mavunga said. “Some fouls that we got away with for both teams. That’s what happens when two teams of high caliber play each other. Everyone wants to get that rebound, so it’s mental. Everyone’s like, ‘I’m not going to get pushed out of the way. That’s the mentality everyone had.’”

UNC (26-9) advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in six years. The Tar Heels will face sixth-ranked and second-seeded Stanford (32-3) here on Tuesday (9 p.m., ESPN).

DeShields said that her father, former Major League veteran Delino DeShields, doesn’t try to coach her or pester her with advice before games. All he told her before her first Sweet 16 matchup was that she needed to stay on the floor.

He meant stay out of foul trouble, but DeShields heard his voice after she kept getting knocked to the ground.

First, the ACC freshman of the year rolled her right ankle 2:30 into the game after challenging a transition lay-up. She needed help getting to the locker room, but got the ankle re-taped and re-entered the game four minutes later.

“They beat my baby girl up,” Mavunga said. “I was really upset. I’m trying to focus on the huddle but I’m in the circle saying a prayer. ‘Lord, be strong enough to get up.’ It hurt me to see her fall but my heart smiled when she got up. …

“Diamond has a crazy mentality. She thinks that Lebron’s her father, so she feels like ‘Well, Lebron can get up so I can get up.’”

Then DeShields was fouled on a reverse lay-up with 7:50 left in the half, causing a pre-existing left knee injury to flare up. But DeShields had scored 10 of UNC’s first 20 points, and with the Tar Heels holding a 20-10 lead, she had no intentions of taking the rest of the half off.

“I didn't want to have that burden on my shoulders of not having done everything that I could to contribute to the team win,” DeShields said. “As much pain as I was in, we had such good morale and energy in the first half and I wasn’t about to bring us down.”

DeShields and Mavunga helped UNC overcome South Carolina’s own top rookie, SEC freshman of the year Alaina Coates, who had game highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Before coming out to California, the Tar Heels received pep talks from 21-time champion women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance and Hall of Fame coach Sylvia Hatchell, who is recovering from her final chemotherapy treatment for leukemia. Hatchell told the team that she would join them for the Final Four in Nashville this weekend if the Tar Heels get there.

UNC jumped on South Carolina (29-4) early on Sunday with intense defense. The Gamecocks scored just 21 first-half points – the fewest allowed by the Tar Heels since New Orleans scored 18 on Dec. 17.

UNC was up eight at halftime and by 11 early in the second half, but the Gamecocks cut the deficit to one with 8:49 left and were poised to take the lead. Freshman Jessica Washington drew a charge on Khadijah Sessions and buried a 3 on the other end to keep UNC in front.

The Tar Heels extended the lead up to eight with 2:15 left when the Gamecocks made one final charge. Over the next 25 seconds, Aleighsa Welch converted a 3-point play, Tar Heels guard Allisha Gray missed a lay-up on the other end, and Coates made two free throws to bring South Carolina within 59-56.

But the Tar Heels were able to get the ball into the hands of Brittany Rountree, UNC’s best free-throw shooter at 85 percent. The junior guard made 5 of 6 from the line to seal the win.

Columbia, S.C., native Xylina McDaniel missed all eight of her shots and second-leading scorer Allisha Gray was held to five points, nine below her average. But UNC still ended one of the best seasons in South Carolina history – the Gamecocks won the SEC regular-season title for the first time and tied a school-record for wins – and kept South Carolina from making its second-ever Elite Eight appearance.

Next up is Stanford, which is 9-1 against Top 25 teams and has won nine straight NCAA Tournament games on its home floor. The Cardinals beat third-seeded Penn State 82-57 earlier Sunday.

“I saw us winning this game and I saw us playing Stanford,” DeShields said. “You can say I’m a visionary. I don’t want to look past Stanford, but I do see Final Four.”

 

NORTH CAROLINA 65, SOUTH CAROLINA 58

 

FG

FT

Reb

NORTH CAROLINA

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Mavunga

25

6-15

1-1

4-9

1

4

13

Coleman

25

3-4

2-4

0-2

2

0

9

Gray

22

2-6

0-0

1-4

1

2

5

DeShields

32

8-16

2-3

0-3

0

3

19

McDaniel

31

0-8

1-2

0-6

2

2

1

Butts

18

3-4

2-2

2-5

0

1

8

Rountree

25

0-0

5-6

0-2

2

1

5

Washington

16

2-3

0-0

1-1

3

2

5

Summers

4

0-2

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Johnson

2

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Totals

200

24-58

13-18

11-35

11

15

65

Percentages: FG .414, FT .722.

3-Point Goals: 4-14, .286 (Coleman 1-2, Washington 1-2, DeShields 1-3, Gray 1-3, Mavunga 0-1, McDaniel 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 3.

Blocked Shots: 4 (DeShields 2, Mavunga 2).

Turnovers: 12 (Washington 3, Rountree 2, Coleman 2, McDaniel 2, Gray 2, Mavunga).

Steals: 7 (Mavunga 3, DeShields 2, McDaniel 2).

Technical Fouls: None.

 

FG

FT

Reb

SOUTH CAROLINA

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Sessions

24

0-8

0-0

1-3

1

2

0

Welch

31

4-7

2-4

4-8

3

4

10

Mitchell

35

4-14

0-0

1-4

2

3

11

Dozier

37

3-7

1-1

0-3

4

3

7

Ibiam

18

1-5

1-1

0-2

0

1

3

Gaines

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Davis

16

1-2

0-0

0-1

0

1

3

Roy

9

1-3

0-0

1-1

2

1

2

Coates

29

9-15

4-4

5-11

0

4

22

Totals

200

23-61

8-10

13-35

12

19

58

Percentages: FG .377, FT .800.

3-Point Goals: 4-12, .333 (Mitchell 3-4, Davis 1-2, Dozier 0-2, Roy 0-2, Sessions 0-2).

Team Rebounds: 2.

Blocked Shots: 5 (Coates 4, Welch).

Turnovers: 13 (Mitchell 3, Dozier 2, Roy 2, Coates 2, Sessions, Welch, Davis).

Steals: 5 (Mitchell 2, Dozier, Roy, Welch).

Technical Fouls: None.

North Carolina

29

36—65

South Carolina

21

37—58

A_6,700.

Officials_Eric Brewton, Felicia Grinter, Brian Hall.