“It helped us get going because we’ve been starting slow, so we tried to start real aggressive,” she said. “We made some mistakes but we did start aggressive and I think that helped us.”
The Tar Heels stifled the Mountaineer offense in the first quarter, surrendering six points. North Carolina only allowed Appalachian State to shoot 27.5 percent for the game.
First-year guard Destinee Walker said the Tar Heels have been working hard to improve their defense.
“At the beginning of the season when we did play good shooting teams, we did get in trouble where they did get a lot of open threes and open jump shots in transition defense, but I think we’ve been working on it as a team, a lot,” she said. “I think we’re getting a lot better at it.”
But the rustiness eventually presented itself, and North Carolina’s momentum did not last.
Appalachian State pulled within three points in the third quarter and four in the fourth. The Tar Heels committed 23 turnovers and were outrebounded 59-44 by the Mountaineers.
UNC needed a big play. Sophomore guard Jamie Cherry delivered. Her 3-pointer with 37 seconds left in the game extended the Tar Heels’ lead to 65-57 and gave them enough cushion to pull out the win.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to shoot it,” she said. “That was the only option, was to shoot it, and I’m glad it went in because it was when we needed a bucket.”
Hatchell said she was proud of her team for responding to adversity and fighting through the rust that comes with final exams.
“We got in foul trouble a little bit and we were playing basically seven players so they just had to buckle down,” she said. “We were tough down the stretch and did some nice things.”