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DeGraffenreid uses second half to get on track

UNC’s Cetera DeGraffenreid has her shot readjusted by Maryland’s Diandra Tchatchouang. DTH/Will Cooper
UNC’s Cetera DeGraffenreid has her shot readjusted by Maryland’s Diandra Tchatchouang. DTH/Will Cooper

Ten days ago against Connecticut, North Carolina point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid managed four points on 14 percent shooting.

Five days later against Virginia Tech, she tallied five points — though her field goal percentage dwindled to nine percent. And in Sunday’s first half against Maryland, her totals diminished even more.

She attempted four shots, made none and left the court with zero points. In fact, the junior had made only two of 22 shots in the last five halves.

Coach Sylvia Hatchell had seen enough.

“At halftime, I had the one-on-one with her,” Hatchell said. “I said, ‘Tia, you have started for three years on a team that has been ranked top 10. Lots of times, top five.

‘You are an All-American guard. This is your team. Put them on your back.’”

Having started 74 of 87 games during her three-year college career prior to the Maryland matchup, it seemed DeGraffenreid would have a chance to make amends almost immediately. Instead, though, the guard found herself sitting next to assistant coach Andrew Calder on the bench.

“Cetera did not play well the past two games, and that’s why She’la (White) started,” Hatchell said. “I was just trying to challenge her and get her to step up and be aggressive and assertive.”

Three minutes into the second half, Hatchell gave DeGraffenreid that chance. The junior made sure not to waste it.

At the 14:45 mark, DeGraffenreid showed a pulse, as she dribbled into the lane, bounced off a Terrapin defender and heaved in a contested layup while getting fouled.

Nearly seven minutes later, with UNC squeaking by in a 54-52 ball game, DeGraffenreid stole a pass and raced down the court for a coast-to-coast layup. And on the Tar Heels’ ensuing possession — after Italee Lucas stole a Maryland pass and heaved the ball toward DeGraffenreid — the junior tallied a remarkable twisting, right-handed layup while falling over.

DeGraffenreid improved after the break, with eight vital points on 50 percent shooting. At points during her highly contested layups, she seemed like her pre-UConn self.

And although Hatchell still plans on shuffling her starting lineups, it would appear she needs DeGraffenreid and her 13.6 ppg average to become a routine staple once more. For as impressive as UNC’s rebound win against Maryland was, the Tar Heels garnered only half the typical production from DeGraffenreid.

At the game’s conclusion, the junior left Carmichael Auditorium before she could be interviewed, but her coach had some pointed remarks for her team’s floor general.

“Cetera’s a great player, but she’s got to step up and be more of a leader,” Hatchell said.

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