Without Hatchell on bench, Tar Heel women open with rout
With UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell cheering her team on from a hospital bed, interim coach Andy Calder led the No. 11 Tar Heel women to a 111-50 win over Carson-Newman, Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.
Hatchell took a leave from her coaching duties to battle leukemia, and Wednesday’s exhibition game was Calder’s first at the helm.
“I was comfortable in the seat,” Calder said. “Coach Hatchell prepares all of her assistants to be head coaches one day. We have a great group of young ladies. It was easy to ask them, ‘What’s the next play?’ They followed Coach Hatchell’s game plan.”
While Calder was comfortable in his role, Hatchell seemed restless being away from her team. She tweeted a picture of herself in her hospital bed before the game and promised that she’d be watching a live feed.
“I communicated with her (before the game),” Calder said. “I understand she shaved her head right before the game and put ‘Go Tar Heels’ on it.” Hatchell tweeted a photo of that about an hour after the game.
Hatchell graduated from Carson-Newman, and her alma mater’s players paid tribute to her before the game. The team took the floor in orange warm-up shirts that said, “Hoop 4 Hatchell” on the front and “Our coach, our family, our friend” on the back.
“We did not know they were going to do that,” Calder said of Carson-Newman’s warm-ups. “It was very surprising. It was great taking a team picture with them.”
The Tar Heels put the game out of reach early, with a 31-7 run in the first 8 minutes of play. Six Carolina players scored in double figures on the night.
“We have good balance, Calder said. “You can’t really zero in on one player, even though we’ve got a couple players I know they’ll be zeroing in on.”
Freshman Diamond DeShields and sophomore Xylina McDaniel, who were both named to the Wooden Award Top 30 list before the season, each had 16 points for the Tar Heels.
“Those two players make other players better,” Calder said. “Diamond and Xylina will get their teammates open shots.”
So will freshman Stephanie Mavunga, who had a game-high 18 points and 15 rebounds.
“They’ll be corralling Stephanie in the post, and that’ll open up a lot of shots on the outside,” Calder said.
Allisha Gray was the third member of Carolina’s five-person freshman class to score in double figures, with 14 points.
“The freshmen were very good today,” Calder said. “They did important things on floor tonight.”
Players and coaches agreed that the large class of freshmen has blended well with the returning players, giving the Tar Heels good chemistry.
“They’re a blessing,” McDaniel said of the newcomers. “They’re smart. They’re ready to play and ready to learn. It’s not like, ‘Oh I have to deal with them. I’m glad I have them on my team. They pick up things so fast. I’m so proud of them.”
“I didn’t have any nerves,” DeShields said. “I wasn’t really anticipating anything. This is just playing basketball ... It didn’t feel like my first game.”
North Carolina’s starters had an average four-inch height advantage over Carson-Newman’s allowing the Tar Heels to hold the Lady Eagles to 26.7 percent shooting from the field.
Carolina also appeared to have an edge in speed. Five Tar Heels had at least three steals, and Carson-Newman finished with 32 turnovers.
Despite a 54-34 rebounding edge, Calder saw room for improvement.
“We need to do a little better,” he said. “Even though you say we won by 20 (on the boards), a lot of that was because of our size and athletic ability. I don’t think we boxed out as well as we have to in order to be a championship team, and we also didn’t go to the boards like we were supposed to.”
That was the only blemish Calder on the 61-point win that Carolina delivered to Coach Hatchell by long distance.
“It was great to get the win for her,” McDaniel said. “Every win we get without her being here physically is going to be great for all of us.”
Carolina will host Wingate Tuesday in another exhibition game before opening the season Nov. 8 against Air Force.
North Carolina 111, Carson-Newman 50
|10||Mclaughlin, Jai Jai||g||2-8||0-0||3-7||2||4||6||2||7||2||6||0||4||25|
|1st Half||2nd Half||Total|
|FG%||6-25 (0.240)||10-36 (0.278)||16-61 (0.262)||Deadball|
|3FG%||5-14 (0.357)||1-9 (0.111)||6-23 (0.261)||Rebs|
|FT%||10-19 (0.526)||2-6 (0.333)||12-25 (0.480)||8|
|HOME TEAM: North Carolina|
|1st Half||2nd Half||Total|
|FG%||23-42 (0.548)||14-32 (0.438)||37-74 (0.500)||Deadball|
|3FG%||5-16 (0.312)||8-15 (0.533)||13-31 (0.419)||Rebs|
|FT%||13-17 (0.765)||11-19 (0.579)||24-36 (0.667)||11|
|Score by Period||1||2||Total|
|Officials:Angel Stanton, Kristi Vera, Mark Behrens|
|Technical fouls: Carson-Newman -None North Carolina -None|