Current Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 12:17:10 -0400
The North Carolina women’s basketball team had won every close game it had played this season.
But on Sunday, a balanced offensive attack from No. 19 Florida State and poor 3-point shooting from No. 14 UNC (23-4, 11-3 ACC) translated into an 80-73 loss to the Seminoles in Tallahassee, Fla.
It was the Tar Heels’ first loss to a lesser- ranked opponent this season.
The Tar Heels beat the Seminoles 72-62 on Jan. 31 in Chapel Hill, when they jumped out to a 21-8 lead and survived a late FSU charge.
“We always talk about throwing the first punch and being aggressive,” FSU redshirt senior guard Alexa Deluzio told the media after the game. “If you remember last time we were up there, we came out shellshocked. I wanted to do, and I know my teammates wanted to do, anything to prevent that.”
The Seminoles started strong, thanks in part to back-to-back 3-pointers from Deluzio, and took a three-point lead into halftime.
UNC led 41-38 early in the second half, but it would never lead again. Runs of 7-0 and 10-1 built the Seminoles’ lead, and UNC foul trouble kept it safe.
UNC’s top three scorers in the game — Xylina McDaniel, Waltiea Rolle and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt — all fouled out and missed varying portions of the game’s final five minutes.
“I thought I was going to have to dress out my managers,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “We had so many kids fouling out. Three of the top players in the ACC.”
FSU coach Sue Semrau said targeting UNC’s post players was not part of the game plan.
“When you play harder, you have an opportunity to get people into foul trouble,” Semrau said. “It wasn’t something we had drawn up.”
McDaniel followed her 19-point career high in the first FSU game by setting a new career mark — 25 points — in 27 minutes Sunday.
“Xylina’s going to continue to get better and be a beast,” Hatchell said.
But UNC once again struggled from beyond the arc, shooting 3-for-15 from deep, including an 0-for-6 performance from guard Megan Buckland, who averages 37.7 percent.
“(FSU) had a lot of weapons out there today. Good shooting always takes care of a multitude of sins,” Hatchell said. “I don’t know when I’ve ever seen Megan Buckland not make a three.”
In its four losses, UNC has shot an average of 14.9 percent from beyond the arc.
FSU shot 5-for-9 from 3-point range and 48.2 percent from the field.
Leonor Rodriguez’s 22 points led the way for the Seminoles, who had four players score in double digits.
“They’ve established her role as being in charge — a go-to type player,” Hatchell said of Rodriguez.
Hatchell said the FSU team she expected in Chapel Hill on Jan. 31 showed up Sunday.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit — they played hard,” Hatchell said. “At times it seemed like they wanted it more than we did.”
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