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The Daily Tar Heel

Women's basketball sweeps UVa., Va. Tech


Senior guard Cetera DeGraffenreid posted 14 points against Virginia Tech on Sunday.

For the North Carolina women’s basketball team, this weekend of ACC matchups was about more than earning two conference victories.

It was about taking down an entire state.

The No. 15 Tar Heels took an easy 64-52 victory against Virginia on Friday and matched it with a 76-51 win against Virginia Tech on Sunday.

Although North Carolina (19-3, 5-2 ACC) never relinquished a lead Sunday, the Hokies — who have yet to pocket an ACC win this season — played a strong first half to threaten early.

“The first half we were getting a lot of shots around the basket, but they just weren’t going in,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

“Instead of shooting we were just sort of chucking them up there, so in the second half I thought we came out with a lot more energy.”

Leading Virginia Tech (9-12, 0-7) by just eight at the half, the Tar Heels’ lapses in rebounding and poor shooting were soon replaced with plenty of transition points as the clock continued to wind down.

“We usually play in runs like that,” Hatchell said. “The biggest thing is if — not if, when — when we develop more consistency, we’re actually at times pretty good out there. As we develop consistency, we’re probably going to move to another level.”

Senior guard Italee Lucas once again returned to the court as the team’s top scorer, posting 19 points, five assists and an aggressive three steals. She averaged 17.7 points and 2.9 assists per game in UNC’s 22 contests this season.

Her reign at the top was briefly interrupted on Friday as junior She’la White led the team off the bench with 14 points against the Cavaliers.

Sunday’s game was also a breakthrough performance for senior point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid. After a season of setting up plays and leading from the top of the key, DeGraffenreid finally got a chance to star in the plays she normally assists.

The guard, who has been averaging around seven points per game, put up 14 points thanks to fast-break and penetrating layups to accompany a team-leading six assists.

After gaining her confidence on the floor, DeGraffenreid pulled back and shot a 3 that sent both the crowd and her teammates into a frenzy.

“I just get excited for her when she hits the 3’s, cause she can shoot. Once she hits one, her confidence is there,” Lucas said. “She’s really trying to take control as a leader in the point guard area.”

Still without senior Jessica Breland, who is out with a knee injury, the Tar Heels’ post play continues to show development with junior Laura Broomfield. She posted a double-double along with sophomore Waltiea Rolle, who knocked away five Hokie attempts at the rim.

“We’re not getting overconfident — we have some big games coming up,” Broomfield said. “I’m playing more minutes and I’m getting more rhythm on the floor, so my confidence is growing.”

The win, revenge for a North Carolina team that fell by 15 points in Blacksburg, Va., last year, marked notable growth from last year’s disappointing 19-12 squad. At 19 wins, the Tar Heels now match their entire season’s wins from last year with seven conference games and a Kennesaw State matchup standing in between now and tournament season.

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