UNC defenders stymie Wolfpack women as Heels hold on
It’s one of the most fundamental plays in basketball, yet North Carolina frustrated the N.C. State repeatedly Thursday night when the Wolfpack was attempting to throw the ball inbound.
With a 3-point lead and just 49.4 seconds remaining in a see-saw ACC women’s basketball game at Reynolds Coliseum, the Tar Heels made the Pack pay with a five-second violation that turned the tide in UNC’s favor on its way to a 70-66 victory.
“I had on film four straight possessions where a team could not get the ball inbound against them,” N.C. State coach Kellie Harper said. “Obviously, they’ve got a pretty good system there. We knew that was going to be an issue.
“I thought I got the timeout (called). When I heard the whistle, I was on the court thinking that I was getting a timeout. ... Obviously, that last one that caused the five-second count, that really hurt us. That was a time that we needed to get the ball in and get a shot up.”
After that, the Wolfpack (8-8, 0-4 ACC) spent much of the time sending Brittany Rountree to the free-throw line, where she made 6 of 7 in the final 43.8 seconds to finish with a team-high 17 points.
“We did not want Rountree shooting free throws,” Harper said. “We just couldn’t keep the ball out of her hands.”
N.C. State wasn’t finished, though, as Marissa Kastanek’s fourth 3-pointer of the game trimmed the margin to 68-66 with 17.7 seconds left.
The Pack fouled Rountree a second later, and that’s when she missed the front end of a one-and-one. Markeisha Gatling grabbed the rebound for N.C. State, but she passed the ball behind a streaking teammate and it sailed out of bounds with 14 seconds on the clock _ the Pack’s 23rd turnover of the game.
Rountree’s final two free throws, giving her 14 points in the second half, with 12.5 seconds left sealed the win for UNC (16-1, 4-0).
UNC center Waltiea Rolle, a 6-6 senior who was guarding 5-4 point guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman on the Pack’s inbound plays, added 16 points and Xylina McDaniel had 11 despite being in foul trouble much of the game.
“It was a typical Carolina-State game, but we knew it was going to be a battle because State always plays exceptionally well (against us),” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “I think they out-hustled us for about 30 of the 40 minutes, but then we got things going _ our defense got going.”
Kastanek finished with a game-high 20 points, connecting on 7 of 14 shots from the field and 50-percent from 3-point range. Kody Burke added 17 and Goodwin-Coleman had 13 for the Wolfpack.
“(Kastanek’s) a great player and she plays even better when she plays us,” Hatchell said. “I’m not sure if she likes blue or doesn’t like blue, but she can flat out shoot and she’s smart, too.”
UNC quickly opened a six-point lead less than four minutes into the game, as the Wolfpack struggled with the pace. Kastanek’s first 3-pointer of the night trimmed the margin to 11-10 with 12:20 left in the half, and Burke’s basket inside gave the Wolfpack its first lead at 14-13 with 10:53 remaining.
Kastanek scored the next five points while UNC went more than four minutes without scoring until Rolle, who had 10 points in the first half, broke the drought and began a 7-0 run by the Tar Heels that gave them a 20-19 lead at the 5:17 mark.
UNC spread the gap to four points on a 15-foot shot by Rolle, but Burke scored seven points during a 9-0 run by the Pack for a 31-26 lead with 1:17 left in the half.
Danielle Butts drove the baseline to let the Tar Heels cut the halftime margin to 31-28.
Burke went to the locker room with 12 points for the Pack, while Kastanek had 10.
N.C. State held a 22-15 rebounding advantage, as well, in the first half led by Kastanek and Burke with four each.
But the Pack couldn’t sustain their first-half momentum.
“I think they were quite active, and that was primarily what was leading to those turnovers,” Harper said of UNC’s defense. “About midway through the second half, I thought we were a little bit stagnant. Some of those possessions led to turnovers. We weren’t moving as much.
“That was a good game to watch. The crowd got their money’s worth on that one. ... Both teams playing hard, both teams being competitive.”
No. 11 UNC 70, N.C. State 66
Percentages: FG .409, FT .706. 3-Point Goals: 4-16, .250 (Rountree 3-7, Buckland 1-4, Coleman 0-1, McDaniel 0-1, Butts 0-1, Gross 0-1, Ruffin-Pratt 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 4 (Rolle 3, Butts). Turnovers: 14 (Ruffin-Pratt 5, McDaniel 2, Butts 2, Rountree, Johnson, Rolle, Gross, Coleman). Steals: 14 (Rountree 4, Ruffin-Pratt 2, Rolle 2, McDaniel 2, Butts, Buckland, Gross, Coleman). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .400, FT .625. 3-Point Goals: 9-19, .474 (Kastanek 4-8, Goodwin-Coleman 3-6, Williams 1-1, Burke 1-1, Brown 0-1, Barrett 0-2). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 2 (Daniel, Kastanek). Turnovers: 23 (Gatling 4, Barrett 4, Kastanek 3, Brown 3, Eli 3, Goodwin-Coleman 2, Williams 2, Evans). Steals: 7 (Barrett 3, Kastanek 2, Evans, Williams). Technical Fouls: None.
A—2,977. Officials—Maj Forsberg, Mark Hardcastle, Bonnie Pettus.