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The Daily Tar Heel

When the Carmichael Arena lights dim and the PA announcer begins his pre-game introductions, it’s truly anybody’s guess who will the take court for the North Carolina women’s basketball team.

In Thursday night’s 52-47 loss against Clemson, Sylvia Hatchell trotted out the eighth different lineup the injury-ravaged Tar Heels have employed this season.

But despite having a few more weapons at their disposal than usual, the Tar Heels struggled to gel offensively. They put up the fewest points they’ve tallied in a game this season.

“It was definitely a plus to see that we have all these people back and that everybody’s ready to play,” junior guard Krista Gross said. “I think that might’ve affected our mentality a bit because we knew that everybody was back.”

The Tar Heels came into the game after battling through a tough conference-opening slate of games against then-No. 12 Miami, Virginia and No. 5 Maryland.

UNC went 2-1 during that high-pressure stretch, and a matchup against a Clemson team that entered the game 4-10 seemed as though it would offer a sigh of relief.

It didn’t.

Clemson took control of the contest from tip-off, starting on an 8-0 run.

“Some lineups obviously have better chemistry than other lineups,” senior center Chay Shegog said. “I think everyone on the team knows each other very well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It might take a minute to develop, but I think once we get the swing of it, everything’s okay.”

For a moment, it looked like UNC had gotten the swing of it.

The Tar Heels rattled off 13 straight points to claim the lead after an early timeout, and UNC spread the love offensively throughout much of the first half as eight different players scored.

Junior guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt made her first start since coming back last month from right shoulder surgery, and She’la White and Laura Broomfield also played despite ankle and eye injuries respectively.

But UNC wasn’t able to maintain its lead for long, going into halftime tied 29-29 and allowing Clemson to go on a 7-0 run in the beginning of the second half.

Other than two brief, one-point leads in the middle of the half, UNC continued to trail the Tigers. And Hatchell said she believes UNC’s added depth could’ve done more harm than good.

“When our numbers were so low everybody knew that they had to play. That’s what they had to do,” Hatchell said.

“Now, maybe they’re feeling like, ‘I don’t have to as much as I was doing because other people can do it.’ We got to have some time to get the chemistry together with this group.”

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