It took a little longer than expected but after 45 minutes of nail-biting play Sunday afternoon North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell captured her 800th win as a head coach.
And just as in her 500th 600th and 700th victories the win came against rival N.C. State" as UNC took down the Wolfpack 75-66.
""I tell you what" that is incredible" said Hatchell, who became only the fourth women's coach to reach the milestone.
When they said it was five" six" seven and 800 against N.C. State — that's like the chances of winning the lottery.""
But it isn't luck that has brought Hatchell to the upper echelon of her profession"" a fact not lost on senior Rashanda McCants.
""I just think it shows how great of a coach she is — a hall-of-famer"" said McCants, who also was a part of Hatchell's 700th victory. Just being coached by her — it makes me better every single day.""
But the Wolfpack didn't go down without a fight. Playing for the first time since coach Kay Yow announced she would not return this season as she continues to battle breast cancer" N.C. State (8-8 0-1 ACC) gave No. 2 UNC all it could handle.
UNC (16-0 2-0 ACC) who earlier in the season scored 57 points in the first half alone against Western Carolina managed just 59 in the first 40 minutes Sunday thanks to an N.C. State 1-3-1 zone and an extremely poor shooting effort.
UNC shot just 35.5 percent for the game" including a paltry 28.1 percent mark in the second half.
""We've never shot as poorly as we did today" so we will be having a shooting practice" Hatchell said, addressing the crowd of more than 7,000 after the game.
McCants was the first to admit the Tar Heels weren't ready coming out of the gates.
We didn't come out as focused as we wanted"" she said. We'll practice and get better.""
Adding to UNC's woes" the Tar Heels lost starting forward Jessica Breland to an ankle injury with more than 12 minutes remaining.
Stepping in for Breland" freshman Chay Shegog netted 15 points and nine boards.
""This one right here keeps getting better and better and better"" Hatchell said, patting Shegog on the shoulder.
And thanks to a solid defensive effort from her own squad, Hatchell's Tar Heels remained close throughout the game, holding N.C. State to just 32.1 percent shooting.
Trailing by five with less than five minutes to go, UNC went on a 7-0 run, thanks in large part to electrifying speed and crowd-rallying breakaway layups from point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid. UNC would never trail again.
With the score tied at 59, DeGraffenreid had a chance to win the game, but couldn't get a shot off before stepping out of bounds with 0.9 seconds remaining.
In overtime, McCants took over early and helped put the Tar Heels out of reach of a breathless N.C. State squad.
After the game, the newest member of the 800-win club sent her thoughts and prayers out to Yow, who recommended Hatchell for the job at UNC.
Kay has done so much for the game of women's basketball"" Hatchell said. She just gives and gives and gives.""
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