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The Daily Tar Heel

McDaniel finds a way to perform in UNC's women's basketball loss

The No. 8 North Carolina women’s basketball team shot a season-low 26.8 percent in Sunday’s loss to Virginia Tech. But if there was one high note, it was Xylina McDaniel’s performance.

McDaniel, a sophomore forward, faced suspension in UNC’s previous game, but returned with a vengeance to net a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds Sunday in Carmichael Arena.

Unfortunately for McDaniel, her effort was not enough to compensate for a series of Tar Heel mistakes that prevented the team from achieving a comeback of its own. UNC inevitably fell to the unranked Hokies, who sit at the bottom of the ACC standings, 50-47 in the final seconds of the game.

“Sometimes we get anxious,” McDaniel said. “We have been focusing on turnovers a lot, but I think we’re just so anxious to where you’re just trying to get the ball to the open person … all we can do is learn from it.”

Possession was an issue for the Tar Heels, who seemed to throw the ball everywhere but in the net. For the first time all year, UNC was held to fewer than 65 points.

Lackluster shooting performances of usual standouts freshman Diamond DeShields and Allisha Gray forced McDaniel to pick up the slack. DeShields and Gray, who came into the game averaging 18.1 and 15.1 points per game respectively, combined for as many field goals as McDaniel scored individually.

“(Xylina) is a competitor,” said Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder. “She loves to compete. She went out there and played her game. She found herself open, and she created some shots for herself.”

Virginia Tech led UNC for the majority of the game, racking up a 12-point advantage at one point, but the Tar Heels managed a rally late in the second half.

Capitalizing on a 15-5 run, UNC fought to stay in the game as the final minutes ticked away. Momentum undulated as the team gained meager two- and three-point leads then immediately turned the ball over or succumbed to foul trouble.

McDaniel’s biggest moment came when her team needed it the most.

With 7.9 seconds illuminating the scoreboard, she drove in a layup that put the Tar Heels one point away from overtime potential. But UNC failed to stay afloat, committing a foul in the next play that solidified its fate.

Despite her team’s late-game falter, McDaniel did not chalk the loss up to a lack of composure.

“(The team’s performance under pressure) could be better, like last year’s team,” McDaniel said. “We’re learning from that slowly, but it’s not as bad as our record may say. I think the team does well under pressure, it just doesn’t always show.”

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