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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC seeks redemption against Wolfpack

Won’t forget 11-point defeat

	Cetera DeGraffenreid suffered an 11-point loss to N.C. State last season despite her best efforts, scoring 22 points and dishing out five assists.

Cetera DeGraffenreid suffered an 11-point loss to N.C. State last season despite her best efforts, scoring 22 points and dishing out five assists.

The North Carolina women’s basketball team has a bitter taste in its mouth. It’s a taste that’s lingered for almost eleven months, and they’re ready to get rid of it.

“Remembering them jumping in the middle of the court at the end of the game kind of fuels everything,” senior Jessica Breland said. “I’m ready to play.”

On Feb. 21, 2010, North Carolina State handed senior Italee Lucas one of the toughest losses of her career. N.C. State won the game handily — the final score was 74-63 — and embarrassed the Tar Heels in Carmichael Arena.

It’s bad enough to lose to a rival team on your home floor. Having them celebrate in the middle of your gym afterward is even worse.

“I’m not that type of person,” Lucas said. “It’s just more motivation when we see them Friday night. We definitely want to get them back for the loss that we had on our home court.”

UNC is coming off its two closest games of the year, a one-point loss to Georgia Tech followed by a one-point victory against Boston College.

Coach Sylvia Hatchell said the loss to Georgia Tech was the first time in her 25-year career in Chapel Hill that her team blew a lead of four points or more with a minute left.

“We learned a lot from that game, but it was really great that we were able to go right back on the road against a very good team in Boston College and pull that game out,” Hatchell said.

Against the Yellow Jackets, North Carolina was outrebounded 39-29. Georgia Tech got 13 rebounds from guards Deja Foster, Metra Walthour and Tyaunna Marshall, prompting Breland to say the Tar Heels need more production on the boards from their guards.

“We didn’t execute when we needed to execute,” Breland said. “A lot of balls went long and their guards did a very good job of rebounding. Our guards got outrebounded.”

Although N.C. State hasn’t had a spectacular season thus far, they always seem to bring their A game when playing the Tar Heels.

“N.C. State’s a very athletic team — they’re not that big, but they’re athletic — and they’ve got some excellent shooters,” Hatchell said. “They’re much better than their record indicates and they always get up and play their best against us.”

Having Breland on the court this year will be a huge boost for North Carolina. Breland, who sat out last season as she underwent treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, had to watch from the sidelines as UNC squandered an eight-point second-half lead.

Having her 14 points and eight rebounds per game on the floor should help the Tar Heels exploit a size advantage down low.

“We’re hoping our size inside will really be a benefit around the basket,” Hatchell said. “As the game moves along and players get tired, the size usually becomes a factor.”

The real challenge for them will be guarding the Wolfpack’s perimeter shooters. In last season’s matchup they hit 9 of 20 shots from downtown with ACC Freshman of the Year Marissa Kastanek going 4-for-7 from behind the arc.

“They like to penetrate and kick to create things for their outside shooters,” Lucas said. “We’ve just got to keep them in front of us and not let them get middle penetration.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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