UNC women battle through pressure of history, top BC for No. 900
During the past week, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell was worried that her run at 900 career victories was becoming a distraction for her team, which fell behind by 30 points in the first half Sunday in a loss to Duke.
That concern quickly went away Thursday night at Boston College. A focused UNC team never trailed against the Eagles, posting their largest output in an ACC game this season and allowing just 19 first-half points in an 80-52 win at the Conte Forum.
The result made Hatchell the third women’s basketball coach in NCAA history with 900 career wins.
“Obviously it’s a great honor to be a part of this,” senior forward Krista Gross said. “It’s great to be able to do something like this for Coach Hatchell because she’s done so much for us.”
No. 16 UNC (21-3, 9-2 ACC) shot 50 percent and used its trademark pressure defense to blow out the Eagles (9-13, 3-8) and make sure Hatchell wouldn’t have to wait any longer for her milestone win.
“We were certainly trying everything we could to prevent her from getting her 900th victory tonight,” Boston College coach Erik Johnson said. “We wanted to push that off one more game. The reality is there’s a reason they’ve won 900 basketball games under Coach Hatchell.”
UNC’s full-court press forced 14 first-half turnovers, which they turned into 11 points en route to a 35-19 halftime lead.
“That team played with an extreme sense of urgency,” Johnson said. “Their defensive intensity, as much as you try to duplicate that in practice… it’s really hard and I thought they did a phenomenal job.”
Brittany Rountree opened the second half with the same effort, forcing a five-second call on Tiffany Ruffin on the Eagles’ first possession.
UNC eventually backed off on defense, but its offense produced 45 second-half points by shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 9 of 10 from the line.
The Tar Heels were doubling up the Eagles 64-32 with 11:28 remaining and led by as many as 33 points with eight minutes left.
ACC freshman of the year frontrunner Xylina McDaniel led a balanced scoring effort with 15 points and seven rebounds. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added 14 points, six rebounds and six assists and Megan Buckland had 10 points and four steals off the bench.
Gross, who’s fourth in the ACC in rebounding with an average of 8.9 a game, had a game-high eight rebounds as the Tar Heels had a 43-21 edge on the boards.
Hatchell will go for win No. 901— which would break a tie with Jody Conradt and put her behind only Pat Summitt (1,098) on the career wins list — when UNC plays Sunday at Georgia Tech (10-12, 3-8).
SYLVIA HATCHELL’S HISTORIC 900TH VICTORY
No. 16 UNC 80, BOSTON COLLEGE 52
Percentages: FG .500, FT .850. 3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (Rountree 2-6, Buckland 2-7, Coleman 1-1, Adams 1-1, Gross 1-2, McDaniel 0-1, Butts 0-1, Ruffin-Pratt 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 1 (Rolle). Turnovers: 18 (McDaniel 5, Gross 3, Butts 3, Johnson 2, Ruffin-Pratt, Buckland, Rolle, Bryant, Coleman). Steals: 10 (Buckland 4, Rountree 2, Gross 2, Ruffin-Pratt, McDaniel). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .370, FT .778. 3-Point Goals: 4-17, .235 (Boudreau 3-5, Doherty 1-6, Ruffin 0-1, Zenevitch 0-1, Holt 0-1, Shields 0-3). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 2 (Coulombe, Boudreau). Turnovers: 18 (Holt 5, Zenevitch 5, Shields 2, Coulombe 2, Ruffin 2, Doherty). Steals: 9 (Boudreau 2, Holt 2, Coulombe, Zenevitch, Brown, Shields, Doherty). Technical Fouls: None.
A—803. Officials—Dennis DeMayo, Lawson Newton, Angelica Suffren.