After a recent loss against Florida State, coach Sylvia Hatchell jokingly invited all in attendance to her team’s 6 a.m rebounding practices.
There was no joking Thursday night after a 69-62 loss to Boston College.
“I have watched more film than I have ever watched, I think. I’ve watched so much that my brain is … ,” Hatchell paused and buried her head. “I watch so much on these teams.”
The frustration seemed to have reached a boiling point on her team’s inability to crash the boards, an issue that has been a consistent factor in the team’s recent slide.
In the team’s second consecutive loss at home, the Tar Heels found themselves outrebounded 43-39. But the difference proved to be much more dramatic than the difference those four rebounds would convey.
Though the Tar Heels boast a highly athletic frontcourt that also includes three forwards standing 6-feet-4 or higher, the Eagles muscled their way to 25 second-chance points while the Tar Heels only managed to muster nine.
“Rebounding continues to be a thorn in our side,” Hatchell said. “And we have always been a great rebounding team. All I know to do is keep working on it.”
North Carolina’s record when outrebounding opponents is 13-2. But the Tar Heels have only won three of eight games when outrebounded.
Hatchell is aware of the statistics, though she struggled to identify the source of her team’s lack of intensity. Sophomore guard She’La White had only one answer.
“We have to have more heart,” White said. “The only thing that is killing us is rebounding. We’ve been struggling with that all this year.”
Those struggles also became increasingly apparent as the game against Boston College progressed.
With 2:09 remaining in the second half, the Tar Heels sought to close the gap on a seven-point deficit.
With the shot clock winding down, Boston College’s Stefanie Murphy shot a jumper that bounced off the rim and was bobbled in the post.
While a swarm of Tar Heels descended upon her, Murphy came up with the offensive rebound and put in a layup to pad the team’s lead to 62-53.
Just a few minutes later, Eagles’ guard Mickel Picco missed a long 3-pointer. Murphy again snatched the rebound and scored two more points.
When Boston College coach Sylvia Crawley analyzed her team’s big win on the road, she knew there was only one formula.
“We knew it would be a battle of the boards,” Crawley said. “(We) controlled the boards.”
Waltiea Rolle, a freshman who drew the assignment of guarding Eagles’ forward Carolyn Swords, fought in the post and came up with five rebounds.
While she chipped in four key blocks and 11 points in one of her standout outings this year, she did not want to speak about her recent personal progress.
Instead, she could only air the grievances that were shared by her coach and teammate.
“It was a battle,” Rolle said. “I was just trying to block her out as hard as I could. I’m tired of losing, too.”
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