RALEIGH — Chay Shegog was little more than a bystander in Monday’s game against N.C. State.
After picking up her fourth foul shortly after halftime with UNC down seven, she sat with a towel draped over her shoulders — even taking part in a “Tar … Heels” chant after a timeout.
It seemed that North Carolina would be forced to go the rest of the way without any interior presence.
Enter Waltiea Rolle.
Rolle’s play, which could have previously been described as raw, was every bit as important as Italee Lucas’ scoring bonanza in UNC pulling out an 81-69 win in a raucous Reynolds Coliseum.
In 16 second-half minutes, Rolle amassed 10 points, six rebounds, and seven blocks.
“This freshman is going to be a great player,” North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
“She played a really solid game and made some big foul shots for us down the stretch.”
Lucas combined with Rolle to score 34 of UNC’s first 36 second- half points. Rolle was also a force on the boards, nabbing eight total rebounds, including six offensive boards.
Her most impressive rebound came when she missed a shot at the foul line, but was able to hustle to the rebound and put back her own miss to bring UNC within five.
She even made free throws. Rolle entered the game shooting 58 percent from the charity stripe, but she knocked in six of her eight second-half free throws. This sudden development was emblematic of her all-around play on Monday.
“It was big,” Hatchell said. “She’s had some really good games this year. If you look at her stats and percentages, she’s on track to be one of the best we’ve ever had. She’s just going to get better.”
On the defensive end, she was even more forceful. She used her 6-foot-6 frame and pterodactyl-like wingspan to block shots and wreak havoc on N.C. State’s offense. Rolle’s career high in blocks entering the game sat at four, but she obliterated that in just one half, finishing with seven.
“She affected a lot of our shots defensively, and I don’t think we took great shots,” N.C. State head coach Kellie Harper said. “She was really flying into the boards consistently and did a pretty good job from the foul line when we were fouling her. She was a huge lift for them.”
She had always been able to cause shooters problems with her length, but the real growth was in her ability to do it all while only fouling once.
“She’s our safety back there,” Lucas said.
It felt like every Wolfpack drive past a UNC defender ended with Rolle batting away a shot.
“I was just the help,” Rolle said. “If they come driving into the lane, it’s mine. That’s just what I do.”
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