No. 9 UNC's DeShields parlays broken hand into hot hand in win
Breaking her left hand was a blessing as well as a curse for North Carolina freshman Diamond DeShields.
While the injury to her non-shooting hand affected her passing and dribbling — she had 13 turnovers in her past two games — DeShields said that it also made her a more accurate shooter.
DeShields was 4 of 8 from behind the arc and scored a game-high 24 points Thursday as No. 9 UNC beat Clemson 78-55 at Carmichael Arena.
“Nobody wants a broken hand, but it’s really helped me out,” DeShields said. “I’m glad it happened.”
It was the second straight game with four 3-pointers for DeShields, who was 10 of 52 (19.2 percent) from long range before that.
“I’ve been in a shooting slump and when I broke my hand, I started shooting better,” said. “(The left hand) is my guide hand and before I broke it I was incorporating my hand into my shot, which was not allowing the ball to go on the right path. Now it’s barely touching the ball and it’s just pure right hand, pure shooting.”
DeShields suffered the injury on Dec. 21 against High Point when she was landed on it after being undercut on a drive. She doesn’t know when she will be fully healed.
“Soon, I hope,” said DeShields, the reigning ACC rookie of the week. “It feels better.”
Fellow freshmen Allisha Gray (16 points) and Stephanie Mavunga (10 points, nine rebounds, four steals) also starred Thursday as the Tar Heels beat the Tigers for the 20th time in 21 meetings.
Playing with its highest ranking in two years, UNC (15-3, 3-1 ACC) shot 55 percent, outrebounded Clemson (9-9, 1-3) by 15 and had more assists (18) than turnovers (14) for the first time in four conference games.
“If we’re going to be a national championship contenders we have to have more assists than turnovers each game,” active head coach Andrew Calder said. “In order to be a great offensive team you have to be a great passing team, and that will give you a chance to get easy buckets.”
DeShields, the 2013 Naismith Girl’s High School Player of the Year, had three assists to two turnovers and said the game is starting the slow down for her.
“Things are looking a lot more clear when I’m out there and I’m able to see a lot more,” DeShields said. “I really don’t know what it is, but I’m glad it’s happening and it’s really opened up some shots for me and allowed me to be more calm and poised in my offense, because typically I’ll rush shots or make turnovers.”
Clemson coach Audra Smith said that her team backed off DeShields in the first half in order to crowd the lane and prevent penetration. DeShields didn’t attempt a shot for the first 11 minutes of the game, but eventually made the Tigers pay for leaving her open from outside.
“With a talented player like that, eventually she’s going to knock them down,” Smith said. “We wanted to make her prove it from there, and she did. … Second half she was in a rhythm and she knocked down some big ones.”
Clemson junior forward Nikki Dixon was the reigning ACC player of the week after scoring 55 points in her past two games. She had seven points early and the Tigers led 13-2, but Dixon picked up her second foul just 4:19 into the game and the Tar Heels quickly took over.
A fast-break lay-up by Mavunga started a stretch of nine straight points for UNC, which tied the game on a 3-pointer by DeShields with 8:44 left in the first half and took the lead at 19-17 on a pair of free throws by N’Dea Bryant 50 seconds later.
Clemson tied the game at 19-19, but UNC went ahead for good with a 17-2 run, capped by another DeShields 3. The Tar Heels then scored the first 10 points of the second half to go up 48-26 with 17:10 to play and led by at least 20 for the remainder of the game
NOTES — Sylvia Hatchell, who had attended the last four home games, began a five-day stay at UNC Cancer Center Thursday morning. Hatchell is cancer-free after being diagnosed with leukemia three months ago, but she will now undergo two or three more consolidation treatments to ensure that the cancer doesn’t return. “Our prayers continue to be with her and hopefully we can get her back out here on the court as soon as possible,” Calder said. … Junior point guard Chelsea Lindsay, a product of Hillside High School, played a game-high 37 minutes for Clemson. She had three points, five assists and five turnovers.
|No. 9 NORTH CAROLINA 78, CLEMSON 55|
Percentages: FG .386, FT .538.
3-Point Goals: 4-13, .308 (Gaillard 2-2, Dixon 2-5, Tay 0-1, Gramlich 0-5).
Team Rebounds: 7.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Dixon).
Turnovers: 15 (Lindsay 5, Tay 2, Chatman 2, Dixon 2, Dunn 2, Jamison-Myers).
Steals: 5 (Tay 2, Dixon 2, Lindsay).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .554, FT .692.
3-Point Goals: 7-19, .368 (DeShields 4-8, Gray 2-6, Rountree 1-1, Coleman 0-1, Washington 0-1, McDaniel 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Mavunga 4, McDaniel).
Turnovers: 14 (Gray 3, DeShields 2, McDaniel 2, Coleman 2, Washington, Fuller, Rountree, Butts, Bryant).
Steals: 7 (Bryant 2, Washington 2, McDaniel 2, Mavunga).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Joanne Aldrich, Mark Resch, Tiara Cruse.