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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women post a season-high 35 turnovers in 61-37 loss to Miami

It’s hard to win basketball games when a team is consistently turning the ball over, but North Carolina found a way to do that on Jan. 2 against then-No. 12 Miami in Chapel Hill.

Wednesday night the Tar Heels weren’t as lucky.

No. 6 Miami didn’t have to do much in its 61-37 victory against No. 22 North Carolina (17-7, 7-4 ACC), as UNC surrendered the ball a season-high 35 times, just two shy of its point total. That is four more turnovers than their previous season high, tallied earlier this season in the first match against Miami.

The Hurricanes capitalized, scoring 39 points off turnovers.

“When you can score that many points off turnovers you don’t have to do much of anything else,” UNC Coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

The Hurricanes shot just 37 percent from the field, but with the Tar Heels shooting 27 percent, including an abysmal 18 percent in the second half, it was enough for the Hurricanes to leave the BankUnited Center with a victory.

With a little more than 11 minutes remaining in the second half, the Tar Heels had 27 turnovers to 26 points.

North Carolina’s chances looked bleak early. After UNC grabbed the first four points of the game, it did not make another shot for six minutes. In that time the Hurricanes snatched a 17-4 lead.

Typically a presence in the paint, senior Chay Shegog, who came into Wednesday averaging 16.8 points per game, scored only six.

Miami coach Katie Meier said film study of the Tar Heels, and the team’s focus on Shegog, helped keep the 6-foot-5 center from making an impact.

“They go through her almost every offensive possession,” Meier said. “For her to only get six attempts, forget how many she made, the fact that she only had six attempts was huge.”

Junior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had trouble finding her shot in Coral Gables, making only 2-of-10 attempts and turning the ball over 11 times.

Freshman guard Danielle Butts, who made her third start of the season, helped the Tar Heels win the only moral victory for the team — rebounds.

Butts had trouble making shots around the rim, but the 5-foot-10 guard tallied a team-leading eight rebounds, which aided the Tar Heels in outrebounding the Hurricanes 46-39.

Miami senior Shenise Johnson said that the Hurricanes’ ability to force turnovers made up for the Tar Heels’ rebounding advantage.

“We tried to box them out, but either way they were six inches taller than us,” Johnson said. “So we had to get it back in another way, and that’s what we did and that was the difference.”

Freshman guard Brittany Rountree, who entered the game as the team’s second best scorer, scored five points.

“Our guards are doing better, and they’ve been doing a good job,” Hatchell said. “It was extremely physical, and our guards are young.”

Meier said that the Hurricanes’ loss to the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament last season and their forfeiture of a lead on Jan. 2 in Chapel Hill helped motivate her team.

“I said, ‘You’ve got two tanks tonight, so when you think the one’s about to run out, just flip the switch and go to your second tank – that’s the other game they beat us – and use that as your fuel,’” Meier said.

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