Tar Heel women crush Wake Forest in home ACC contest
No. 14 North Carolina (23-3, 11-2 ACC) led wire-to-wire over the Demon Deacons (11-14, 4-9 ACC).
Since losing by 21 points at home to Duke, the Tar Heels have won three straight (two on the road). They are tied for second in the ACC with Maryland. Wake Forest came into the game losers of five of its last six games, all decided by 10 or fewer points.
The Tar Heels led 22-16 with 9:38 to go in the first half before going on a 13-0 run to take a 17-point lead. UNC led 43-24 at halftime and led by as many as 31 in the second half. Wake Forest never got closer than 20 points until the final 1:14. The Tar Heels shot 43.3 percent for the game and 22-of-24 from the foul line (91.7 percent), a season-high.
UNC senior point guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt did not start and played just nine minutes, but had 13 points off the bench. Head coach Sylvia Hatchell said Ruffin-Pratt had a “bruised ankle” and would hopefully be able to play more when the Tar Heels travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State Sunday. Latifah Coleman started in her place and didn’t make a shot, but had four assists in 33 minutes.
Hatchell was not entirely pleased with her team’s effort, especially since Wake Forest ended the game on a 7-2 run. “We still had mental lapses out there at times where we had a big lead and then we got sloppy and had some mental lapses and didn’t take care of the ball, and I really get upset when they do that,” Hatchell said.
Hatchell said her team would study the film of the final ten minutes of the game to see where they could clean up mistakes before Sunday. “They just, they get a lead, they relax. That’s what I don’t like. Get me one of those cow-pokers, they come by, if (freshman Xylina McDaniel is) not hustling down the floor, I can utilize it. Get me one of those electric things, I can give her a little electric shock or something,” Hatchell said with a grin.
Freshman Xylina McDaniel led North Carolina with 15 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Danielle Butts added 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Four other Tar Heels had seven or more points. Wake Forest was led by Chelsea Douglas with 13 points. Hillside High School grad Asia Williams had 12 points for Wake, but shot just 2 of 12 from the field. The Deacons shot 33.3 percent from the floor and turned it over 20 times.
The win was Hatchell’s 902nd (second all-time), but first home game since she passed the 900-win milestone. There was a brief ceremony honoring Hatchell before the game, and afterward, a video played on the video board that featured messages from her former players.
Butts, who said that she said aware of Hatchell nearing that milestone when she came to North Carolina, said that she and her teammates were more than happy to celebrate Hatchell’s 900th win yet again.
“It was a great feeling to be a part of that history and that tradition. Coach Hatchell has worked hard to get her 900th win and it was great to see her expression and her happiness after achieving that goal that many people haven’t achieved,” Butts said.
“It was exciting to be able to be a part of something like that because not many players get to be a part of 900 wins,” McDaniel added.
Wake Forest does not have it any easier; the Deacons are at No. 5 Duke on Sunday afternoon. For the Tar Heels, Sunday’s game gives North Carolina a chance to all but secure a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels are 11-2 in the ACC (tied for second) and already have one win over Florida State, which has the next-closest record (9-4).
No. 14 UNC 76, Wake Forest 56
Percentages: FG .364, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Douglas 3-7, Garcia 1-1, Boykin 1-3, Calicott 0-2, Williams 0-3). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 4 (Garcia 2, Hamby, Walker). Turnovers: 23 (Williams 6, Boykin 5, Douglas 4, Garcia 3, Walker 2, Johnson, Webster, Hamby). Steals: 7 (Boykin 2, Hamby 2, Douglas 2, Walker). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .433, FT .917. 3-Point Goals: 2-10, .200 (Rountree 1-2, Buckland 1-6, Gross 0-1, Coleman 0-1). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked Shots: 3 (Gross, McDaniel, Butts). Turnovers: 18 (Coleman 5, McDaniel 4, Rolle 2, Rountree, Bryant, Butts, Ruffin-Pratt, Gross, Buckland). Steals: 12 (Bryant 2, Buckland 2, Gross 2, McDaniel 2, Johnson, Ruffin-Pratt, Rolle, Coleman). Technical Fouls: None.
A—2,794. Officials—Dee Kantner, Karen Preato, Kevin Dillard.