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The Daily Tar Heel

Buckland’s buckets spark UNC women's basketball to win

After falling behind early Sunday in Carmichael Arena, UNC-Asheville pushed the brakes against a fast-paced North Carolina women’s basketball squad, orchestrating a 7-0 run to bring itself within five points.

In UNC’s last three possessions, the Tar Heels had turned the ball over twice. With their sights set on inside shooting, they also missed a pair of field goals.

So when the Bulldogs capped their lead-slashing run with their second 3-pointer of the afternoon, Latifah Coleman penetrated and hurled the ball to a wide open Megan Buckland, waiting patiently on the wing.

Without hesitation, she shot and scored.

Buckland’s 3-point basket, the first of five she made in North Carolina’s 101-42 victory against UNC-Asheville, sparked the Tar Heel offense, which wreaked havoc on the Bulldogs all game long.

In 17 minutes on the court, Buckland tied a career-high 17 points and went 5-for-7 from deep.

Buckland, who missed all but nine games last season after tearing her ACL, knows she’s not the No. 1 target on the opposing team’s scouting report. The redshirt freshman embraces her low-key role.

“We have such a well-rounded team, I think that’s one of the things that makes it so hard to play against us,” Buckland said. “We have Waltiea (Rolle) and bigger girls inside, but we also have many outside players as well. I think there’s only so much other teams can do.”

The Bulldogs fell right into UNC’s trap. Rolle, who led UNC in scoring with 19 points Sunday, drew UNC-Asheville defenders inside all afternoon. Buckland used those moments to work her 3-point magic.

Head coach Sylvia Hatchell has been increasing Buckland’s minutes gradually this season. Even with limited playing time, Buckland went 3-for-6 from long-range in wins against Georgetown and Iowa earlier this month.

Still, Buckland is well aware her progress would be stymied without help from her teammates.

“It raises my confidence but I think it raises my teammates’ confidence as well,” Buckland said of her recent on-point shooting. “I wouldn’t be able to catch the ball if they weren’t passing it to me, and if Waltiea wasn’t scoring inside, I wouldn’t be able to get open outside.”

With overmatched opponents like LaSalle and UNC-Asheville, Hatchell is using the opportunity to give her bench players minutes on the court.

Hatchell said Buckland and the rest of the reserves have been giving the UNC starters a run for their money in practice scrimmages.

Now, that kind of dedication to improvement is showing when it really matters.

“Megan’s playing well,” Hatchell said. “We’ve got several coming off the bench that are going in there and really giving us a lift.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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