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The Daily Tar Heel

UConn. defense smothers Heels' attack

Freshman Chay Shegog normally provides a strong interior presence for UNC. Monday against UConn. a stifling defense stopped her cold.

When shots aren't falling from outside getting production in the paint can be the only way to an effective offensive game.

For the North Carolina women's basketball team more often than not the responsibility of establishing the Tar Heels in the paint rests on the broad shoulders of 6-foot-5-inch freshman Chay Shegog.

Shegog came into the match-up averaging nine points and more than five rebounds per game.

But in the Tar Heels' 88-58 loss to No. 1 Connecticut on Monday the Huskies were having none of it.

With the Tar Heels ice cold from the outside early Connecticut's bigs bodied the UNC posts well outside of their comfort zones" consistently forcing Shegog and her fellow forwards to receive the ball two or three steps off the low block.

""We've talked a lot about that" Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said.

That spot right on the low block there — if you let a good player catch the ball there" it's really difficult to defend them. … But between (Tina Charles) and (Kaili McLaren) I think we did a pretty good job establishing that spot and not allowing them to just get it whenever they wanted.""

And that strategy paid off — UConn. held Shegog" UNC's tallest player to only two points on two shot attempts. This gameplan allowed the Connecticut guards to pressure their UNC counterparts" further limiting the ease with which the Tar Heels could enter the ball into the paint.

""Their posts were good"" UNC guard Italee Lucas said. It was pretty difficult to get it in there.""

Shegog and fellow forward Jessica Breland came into the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup scoring a combined 22.3 points per game. But thanks to the physical Connecticut defense" the duo managed just 12 points" many of which came on outside jumpers from Breland.

""(Shegog) learned a lot" there's no doubt about that" UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. We'll do a lot of film work with her. … She's got to learn to play in physical play like that.""

Taking advantage of the relatively empty lane" the sophomore Lucas kept the Tar Heels close early with backdoor cuts and short jumpers.

But once the easy buckets disappeared North Carolina got little production in the paint at all.

On the other end of the court the Connecticut posts — namely Charles — never left the paint.

Charles nearly recorded a double-double in the first half scoring nine points and corralling eight rebounds four of which came on the offensive end.

Despite the poor showing from Shegog" the talent she possesses was not lost on Auriemma.

""You know" that freshman kid is going to be really good he said. She's a freshman and you can tell she's a freshman. But she's a tough kid" and she's a real difficult matchup for anybody.""

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