Until the North Carolina women’s basketball team’s 75-49 win against Coastal Carolina, freshman Antoinette Bannister had only scored 13 points in the four games she saw playing time.
But in Sunday’s win, the 5-feet-10 guard scored a team-high and career-high 13 in her 19 minutes on the hardwood.
“This is the best she’s played all year,” coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “She showed what a player she could be. She’s had a conditioning issue so far this year, but she played really, really well today and we need her to continue that.”
Bannister exploited Coastal Carolina’s weak perimeter defense, shooting 3-of-5 from behind the arc.
Though the Tar Heels led the Chanticleers by 11 points at halftime, they couldn’t close the door on them until midway through the second half by putting together a three-minute 13-2 run.
Bannister scored eight points for the Tar Heels in that span, including back-to-back 3-point buckets.
“I’ve just been listening to my coaches and my teammates,” Bannister said. “They’ve been telling me to be ready at any time. Today was just when I was able to show everybody my talent.”
With ankle sprains sidelining freshman forward Xylina McDaniel and limiting playing time for senior center Waltiea Rolle, Bannister wasn’t the only Tar Heel to get a few extra minutes.
Sophomore guard Erika Johnson played the first minutes of her career, adding eight points for UNC.
“This was Erika’s first time playing because she transferred from Cal,” Hatchell said. “She was 4 for 10, nine rebounds, eight points, so she really helped us out as well.”
With the absence of Rolle and McDaniel — two of UNC’s tallest players — the Tar Heels were forced to play a smaller lineup, giving sophomore guard Danielle Butts her first start of the season. Though only 5-10, Butts took her place in the circle for the tipoff and leapt high enough to tip the ball to teammate Tierra Ruffin-Pratt.
“I like these kids, they’re working hard, they’re fun and they have great chemistry,” Hatchell said. “When we get those other two post players back out there, that will really make a difference. ”
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