The North Carolina women’s basketball team treated its 82-49 victory over South Carolina State on Friday as a final dress rehearsal prior to the start of ACC play. The Tar Heels (11-2) were able to execute and have fun after a few key adjustments made at the halftime.
Despite their dominance in several statistical categories, the Tar Heels did not look in top form in the first half. The Lady Bulldogs (3-8) were unfazed by North Carolina’s 1-3-1 half-court trap, and they appeared unconcerned after Stephanie Watts’ 4-for-4 start from the 3-point line. In fact, South Carolina State dared North Carolina to continue hitting shots from the outside. And when the Tar Heels didn’t, UNC appeared out of sync.
In the second half, head coach Sylvia Hatchell and the Tar Heels made an effort to take more layups and make more trips to the free-throw line. UNC went from only scoring 10 points in the paint in the first half to notching 10 in the third quarter alone. The Tar Heels hit as many free throws in the third quarter as they did in the first half, as well.
“I didn’t tell them not to shoot (3-pointers) because our percentage was pretty good, really,” Hatchell said. “But I told them we needed to mix it up some.”
Stephanie Watts was the team’s top scorer with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-11 from 3-point range. She echoed her coach’s thoughts, saying the best way to stay effective offensively after hot starts is to stay tenacious and engaged on defense.