Megan Buckland's sharpshooting leads UNC to big win
As North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell took her seat in the press room following UNC’s 79-58 victory against ACC foe Georgia Tech on Sunday, she immediately brought attention to the heat surrounding her.
“Let me move over a little bit,” Hatchell laughed. “It’s a little hot.”
But Hatchell was not referring to the temperature in the room. It was the hot hand of the person sitting next to her — redshirt freshman guard Megan Buckland — who electrified the Tar Heel offense and crowd at Carmichael Arena with a career high 19-point performance.
“That hand’s still a little hot,” Hatchell added.
For Buckland, who sat out all but nine games last season due to an ACL injury, the time she spent watching her teammates was an opportunity to learn and adjust.
“I definitely learned patience, and I think sitting out a year taught me more about the pace and the difference between high school and college basketball,” Buckland said. “I got to play some games, but watching the ACC games was a learning experience.”
Buckland was able to display her ability to be patient on Sunday.
Despite coming off the bench and missing her first shot, she quickly found rhythm from 3-point range.
Buckland hit all five attempts she took from beyond the arc — a display of sharpshooting that came as no surprise to Hatchell.
“She was like that in high school, a really good shooter,” Hatchell said. “She’s had two ACL tears and it’s taken her a while to get that back. But she can do that all the time.
“Today wasn’t a fluke. Megan could do that all the time.”
When redshirt sophomore guard Latifah Coleman suffered a chest injury with 5:54 left in the game, Hatchell again gave the nod to Buckland, who saw limited minutes because of foul trouble.
“I was saving her with that last foul,” Hatchell said. “If she hadn’t had so many fouls, she would have been out there longer.”
But with 1:41 remaining, Coleman would return after Buckland committed her fifth and final foul.
The crowd of more than 3,800 people in attendance at Carmichael Arena sent Buckland off with a standing ovation as she walked to the sideline, where she received more praise from her teammates and coaches.
“It was pretty amazing obviously,” Buckland said. “I felt good playing today … I made the first one, and then I got my flow, I guess.”
For Buckland, however, UNC’s victory was not about her career-best performance but rather the collective effort displayed by the team.
“I wouldn’t have been able to score without them — without their assists and passes to me,” Buckland said. “It was more of a team effort today for sure.”
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