The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 21st

UNC backcourt shines in win

The plays have become almost predictable. In a game like any other, on a Tuesday night like any other, Cetera DeGraffenreid and Italee Lucas faced Radford and did as usual: Quite frankly, they took over. It’s easy to look at the statistic sheet and see certain scoring runs. It’s easy to look at the lack of scoring from various other players on both teams. But it isn't easy to measure intangibles. And in a run-of-the-mill win against the Highlanders, 74-48, the pair brought just that. “Just pretty much the whole team needs to step up,” Lucas said. “There’s no way we should let a team like that do that to us.” After UNC sprinted out to a 12-0 lead, Radford rallied and took a slim advantage. But then DeGraffenreid and Lucas, as if turned on by a switch, went to work. With North Carolina holding a 22-19 lead around the 7:00 mark in the first half, Lucas, the team’s junior shooting guard, inbounded from beneath the Highlanders’ basket. A five-second violation rapidly approached, so Lucas made a play. The Radford defender guarding Lucas turned away. So the junior threw the ball off the player’s back. Quickly, Lucas gathered the pass and put in a layup, giving North Carolina a 24-19 lead. The moment was as insignificant as they come in an eventual Tar Heel blowout, but the UNC coaching staff couldn’t help but glow on the bench at such basketball intelligence. DeGraffenreid, the lightning-quick point guard, wasn’t about to be outdone by her teammate, though. A minute after Lucas’ play, DeGraffenreid gave her teammate a sweet assist. “The best thing is out of the 30 baskets, we had 22 assists,” coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “I really liked that. Good team basketball. I told them in the locker room, ‘You pass the ball and you score. Someone had 22 of those baskets.’” Still, DeGraffenreid wasn’t done. With seconds remaining in the first half, the junior cut into the lane and drove toward the basket. At the last second, before any sort of charge, she wrapped a pass around the body of her Radford opponent. Sophomore Laura Broomfield caught the dish and put in the easy layup. “Uhh, she’s a pain,” Radford coach Tajam Abraham Ngongba said of DeGraffenreid. “She’s one of those silent assassins that come and go in games. She gives you that dagger, just when you thought you had something.” At halftime, Ngongba likely thought her team had something. The Highlanders trailed by only five points. Well, for now. Lucas and DeGraffenreid accounted for 13 points in the first half. And with just less than nine minutes remaining in the second half, they matched that total. DeGraffenreid, for one, made sure it was a memorable one – especially for Ngongba, who watched blankly at times from the sideline at both guard's skillsets. The likely highlight of the night came around the 16:00 mark in the second half. At that juncture, DeGraffenreid cut down the lane, spun a 180 degree turn around a startled defender and put in the easy basket. The points pushed North Carolina’s lead to 12. And by all accounts and purposes, the game was sealed. “Whenever they need a basket, they know they can get it from her,” Ngongba said of UNC’s talented junior floor-general.  


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