UNC defenders steal UVa. blind in 11-point ACC women's win
Someone wrote the word “Attack” on North Carolina’s locker room door Thursday night. The Tar Heels certainly took that mentality to heart on defense.
UNC scored 32 points off 24 Virginia turnovers and defeated the Cavaliers 71-60 at Carmichael Arena.
No. 11 UNC (18-1, 6-0 ACC) had 14 steals and led by as many as 27 in the second half before the pressure finally relented.
“I think we just came out with a lot of intensity on defense and that just sparked out offense,” senior point guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt said.
The Tar Heels beat Virginia (11-6, 3-3) for the 18th time in 19 games. Sylvia Hatchell is now three wins away from becoming the third coach in women’s college basketball with 900 victories.
Thanks to UNC’s attacking defense, the Tar Heels outscored Virginia 17-0 on points off turnovers and led by 20 at the break. Then, to open the second half, the Cavaliers were called for a five-second violation after they couldn’t inbounds the ball.
“Everybody just takes pride in playing good defense and not letting their man get the ball,” Hatchell said. “I tell them… if four of them are out there really going hard and one’s not, then their strength is that one who’s not. So all five of them don’t want to be the weak link, and they take a lot of pride in getting after it.”
Ruffin-Pratt had another stellar all-around game, recording 14 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five steals. Xylina McDaniel, who leads all ACC freshmen in points (12.4) and rebounds (7.7), had a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds, while senior center Waltiea Rolle scored 10 points in the first 11 ½ minutes and finished with 14 points and four blocks.
Virginia had won five of its past six games and was in the top half of the conference under former Duke assistant Joanne Boyle. But after a 3-pointer by Telia McCall brought the Cavs to within five with 10:26 left in the first half, Virginia went the next eight minutes without a field goal.
During one three-possession stretch, which started with Virginia down by 8, Brittany Rountree got a steal and passed to Megan Buckland for a 3-pointer, Ruffin-Pratt stole the ball and found Xylina McDaniel for a lay-up, and then Virginia committed another turnover that turned into a Buckland 3-pointer.
UNC closed the half on a 19-4 run and led 44-24 at halftime. Ruffin-Pratt threw a three-quarters court outlet pass to Danielle Butts for a lay-up that put the Tar Heels up 58-31 with 13:29 remaining, and UNC led by 21 until Virginia scored the final 10 points to make the game seem closer than it was.
“I thought we were somewhat lackadaisical with the ball, and that’s how Carolina wins games,” Boyle said. “They turn you over, they get lay-ups and second-chance points… and I thought we didn’t play with the effort that we were playing with the last couple weeks, and we were just very flat. You saw loose balls, they got to every one in the first half.”
NOTES — UNC senior Krista Gross, who was fourth in the ACC in rebounding (9.2), pulled down just one … Water was dripping onto the court across from the Tar Heels’ bench, forcing a staffer to towel off that spot every time the ball went to the other side of the court. …UNC now faces its toughest four-game stretch of the season, with road games at No. 10 Maryland (13-3) and previously-ranked Miami (13-4) followed by home games against No. 22 Florida State (14-3) and No. 4 Duke (16-0).
No. 11 UNC 71, Virginia 60
Percentages: FG .370, FT .684. 3-Point Goals: 7-17, .412 (McCall 2-3, Wolfe 2-4, Randolph 1-3, Franklin 1-3, Crosby 1-4). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked Shots: 6 (Egwu 2, Franklin 2, Pitts, McCall). Turnovers: 24 (Wolfe 5, Franklin 4, McCall 3, Pitts 3, Crosby 3, Egwu 2, Imovbioh 2, Garner). Steals: 5 (Garner 2, Randolph, Crosby, McCall). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .419, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 7-19, .368 (Buckland 3-7, Rountree 2-6, McDaniel 1-2, Gross 1-2, Ruffin-Pratt 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 6 (Rolle 4, McDaniel 2). Turnovers: 13 (Ruffin-Pratt 3, Gross 2, Rolle 2, McDaniel 2, Butts 2, Rountree, Coleman). Steals: 14 (Ruffin-Pratt 5, Rountree 2, Rolle 2, Gross 2, Butts, McDaniel, Coleman). Technical Fouls: None.
A—1,628. Officials—Lawson Newton, Luis Gonzalez, Tom Danaher.