Tar Heel women eke out win over James Madison
No. 10 North Carolina was able to escape James Madison 74-71 after what appeared to be simply a well-defended play by the Tar Heels during the final clock ticks in Carmichael Arena on Thursday.
JMU’s Kirby Burkholder had a hand in her face when she released a 3-point attempt that wasn’t close. Toia Giggetts got the offensive rebound but missed the put-back just before the final horn sounded.
JMU coach Kenny Brooks said that wasn’t the play he drew up.
“Absolutely not,” Brooks said. “We didn’t get anything close to what we wanted.”
UNC (12-2) got what it desired — another win heading into Atlantic Coast Conference competition that starts Sunday with a visit from No. 8 Maryland.
JMU (10-4) was as tough as expected, and games against teams like that have prepared the Tar Heels for what awaits them in the ACC, said UNC associate head coach Andrew Calder, who is coaching the team in the absence of Sylvia Hatchell. Hatchell has been out all season while undergoing treatment for leukemia.
“They’re really good,” Calder said. “They’re impressive.”
But the Dukes sputtered with 9.3 seconds left in the game when JMU point guard Angela Mickens was supposed to dribble hard toward the base line and — while in the air and headed out of bounds — pass the ball to a teammate coming off a back screen on the weak side of UNC’s defense. The ball ended up on the strong side in the hands of Burkholder, who was supposed to be a decoy in that set.
“She gave up on the play,” Brooks said of Mickens. “The point guard gave up on the play too soon and took the easy route out.”
The result for the Dukes was a straight-up loss to one of the best teams in the country, so there is neither a moral victory nor any sort of momentum from that to carry into their Jan. 12 Colonial Athletic Association opener against Delaware, JMU guard Precious Hall said.
“We felt like we should have won this game. We just had a couple of mishaps,” Hall said.
Hall was a load with 18 points and Giggetts had a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds).
JMU beat UNC on the backboards 40-31, but what helped the Tar Heels was the 13 points they scored after offensive rebounds compared to three by the Dukes. UNC outscored JMU 38-22 in the paint and the Tar Heels were better in transition.
UNC wasn’t particularly sharp mentally, Calder said. The Tar Heels didn’t make shots like they should have against JMU’s high 2-1-2 zone defense, he said.
Executing in late-game situations, though, has been a focal point during UNC’s recent practices, Calder said.
“They were prepared,” Calder said about his team.
UNC’s Xylina McDaniel led all scorers with 19 points. The Tar Heels got a double-double from freshman Stephanie Mavunga (10 points, 10 rebounds). Allisha Gray (11 points) and Latifah Coleman (14 points) also were in double figures for UNC.
Freshman Jessica Washington started at the point for UNC and had eight points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal in 22 minutes, but Coleman, a junior, gave the Tar Heels a nice lift off the bench.
“She played outstanding. She really did,” Calder said of Washington. “Did a great job running the team. They tried to trap her, she dribbled around it, found the open player.”
Coleman also generated two assists, two rebounds and three steals in 26 minutes.
UNC freshman Diamond DeShields participated in pre-game drills but didn’t play due to a hand injury. Her left hand had a protective wrap around it. There never was any intention DeShields would play against JMU, Calder said.
“She will play on Sunday,” Calder said, portending the Maryland game. “Expect her to play on Sunday.”
The ACC’s preseason player of the year is Maryland senior Alyssa Thomas — not a Tar Heel. That’s not lost on McDaniel.
“I mean, it wasn’t one of us, so that’s motivation,” McDaniel said.
Coleman didn’t get into any of that.
“I’m just going to play ball,” Coleman said.
NOTES — Hatchell took in the JMU game from a seat high up in Carmichael Arena. Since the Christmas break, Hatchell has attended all but one of UNC’s practices, Calder said. ...
Brooks said his Colonial Athletic Association program is built to play the best teams in the ACC and has done so despite the fact that UNC, at least, will only play JMU at home. “We could have played Coastal Carolina, but we wanted to play North Carolina,” Brooks said, referring to the program scheduling “up” in non-conference play. “That was going to make us better, and that’s where we are as a program ” ...
He asserted that the Dukes proved Thursday that they are athletic enough and big and strong enough to have gotten a win against the Tar Heels. He added that he has requested a return date to Harrisonburg, Va., by the Tar Heels, but has been turned down. “They won’t come play us. We would love for them to,” Brooks said.
JMU has hosted ACC schools Duke, Virginia, N.C. State and Wake Forest in the past and beaten all but Duke, Brooks said.
|No. 10 UNC 74, JAMES MADISON 71|
Percentages: FG .373, FT .880.
3-Point Goals: 5-22, .227 (Hall 2-7, Burkholder 2-13, Newman 1-2).
Team Rebounds: 6.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Okafor, Gwathmey, Giggetts).
Turnovers: 22 (Mickens 6, Giggetts 5, Burkholder 2, Newman 2, Ross 2, Gwathmey 2, Hall, Okafor).
Steals: 10 (Hall 3, Mickens 2, Burkholder 2, Giggetts 2, Okafor).
Technical Fouls: Giggetts.
Percentages: FG .456, FT .667.
3-Point Goals: 4-18, .222 (McDaniel 1-2, Washington 1-3, Gray 1-4, Rountree 1-6, Mavunga 0-1, Coleman 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 8 (McDaniel 3, Mavunga 3, Gray, Coleman).
Turnovers: 19 (Mavunga 4, McDaniel 4, Washington 2, Coleman 2, Bryant 2, Gray 2, Johnson, Butts).
Steals: 15 (Coleman 3, Rountree 3, Bryant 2, Mavunga 2, McDaniel 2, Gray, Washington, Butts).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Angela Lewis, Jules Gallien, Reid Brockett.