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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heel victory in final minutes

As the last second ticked off the clock in Carmichael Arena Wednesday night, senior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt jumped up and came down with a defensive rebound.

The crowd erupted as the No. 22 North Carolina women’s basketball team knocked off No. 15 Ohio State 57-54 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

But just 90 seconds before, a Tar Heel victory wasn’t guaranteed, despite a lead that grew as large as 16 in the second half.

“We knew that Ohio State was going to come storming back,” Hatchell said.

Ohio State’s Tayler Hill knocked down a jumper to put her team up 54-51.

After UNC closed the gap to one point, Ohio State tried to seal the win.

But as Darryce Moore brought the ball up the court, she was met by Ruffin-Pratt. The point guard’s tight defense caused Moore to lose her dribble, and Ruffin-Pratt quickly scooped up the ball, flew down the court and buried the go-ahead layup with Moore on her back and 41 seconds left.

Trying to escape the full-court press and another potential turnover, Ohio State called a timeout to get the inbound pass in front of their bench. But when no immediate pass was available, Hill tried to loft the ball over Ruffin-Pratt.

But Ruffin-Pratt wasn’t content with just one big play.

“I tipped it up high and then ran and got it, I guess,” Ruffin-Pratt said with a laugh.

With 27 seconds left in the game, Ruffin-Pratt followed up her fifth steal of the night with her fifth basket — another fast-break layup — and the Tar Heels were up by three.

Following another Ohio State timeout, UNC’s press defense forced Hill to take an off balance shot that clanked off the rim and into Ruffin-Pratt’s hands.

After being suffocated by Ohio State’s slow-paced style of play, UNC took command in the final minutes and disrupted the Buckeyes’ tempo.

Hatchell had tried alternating her defensive sets throughout the game to combat Ohio State’s slower-paced offense.

But in the final minutes, Hatchell was done playing the other team’s game.

“I said, if they are going to get a layup, they’re going to get a layup, but I’m not going to let them run their stuff,” Hatchell said.

“I am not going to let them run their stuff, so we went back to our traps and it paid off.”

North Carolina forced three turnovers in the last two and a half minutes—all three Ruffin-Pratt steals.

Ruffin-Pratt credits her team’s conditioning for helping them get the win in the last minutes of the game.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since I’ve been here,” Ruffin-Pratt said. “We’re just wearing a lot of teams down, and they’re getting tired at the end of the game and we’re still going.”

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