Current Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 01:12:13 -0400
There’s always a lot at stake when the North Carolina women’s basketball team plays rival Duke.
But with a 72-62 win against Florida State Thursday night, UNC will add coach Sylvia Hatchell’s 900th win to the laundry list of motivating factors.
“Nine hundred just means that I guess I’ve been around — I’m not going to say getting old because I don’t feel old,” Hatchell said
No. 11 UNC (20-2, 8-1 ACC) will host No. 5 Duke (19-1, 9-0) on Sunday at 1 p.m. to open the teams’ 2013 season series.
A UNC win would catapult Hatchell into a rare air of women’s basketball royalty, as she would join Tennessee’s Pat Summitt (1098) and Texas’ Jody Conradt (900) in the 900-win club.
Hatchell tried to deflect attention from herself and her pursuit of 900 wins after Thursday night’s win.
“It’s not about me,” Hatchell said. “It’s about these kids and what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve done. They make me look good because they listen and do what they’re supposed to do.”
But for Hatchell to enter that club Sunday against Duke, UNC will need a top-flight performance against a Blue Devils squad that is strong on both sides of the ball.
“Coach Hatchell’s a great coach and she’s done a lot for the program here,” senior center Waltiea Rolle said. “And me as a player, I feel like she deserves to have 900 wins and I’m going to do whatever I can so she can get it.”
Duke is first in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage with 42.9 percent and has four players that convert more than 40 percent of their 3-point attempts.
One of the Blue Devils’ top 3-point shooters, Tricia Liston, is ranked third in the nation with a 48.2 3-point percentage.
If Duke jumps out to an early lead against UNC, like Maryland did by shooting 65.4 percent from the field in the first half on Jan. 24, the Tar Heels could have trouble.
Last year in Durham, Duke shot 54 percent from the field and beat UNC by 40 points, but the Tar Heels made it more competitive in the Chapel Hill sequel, losing 69-63.
“I don’t guess it could be any better than to win it here at home Sunday against Duke,” Hatchell said. “Will it happen, I don’t know, but if it doesn’t we’ve got other games to play.”