The No. 6 North Carolina women’s basketball team came into Carmichael Arena trying to move on from a 78-73 upset by Syracuse last Thursday, with a win against unranked Miami.
But Miami freshman guard Adrienne Motley had no intentions of rolling over for the Tar Heels (17-5, 5-3 ACC), and led her team to an 83-80 upset by scoring a game-high 27 points.
Associate head coach Andrew Calder praised Miami’s movement on offense but was disappointed with the defensive game that the Tar Heels had.
“Our defense was not good,” he said. “Give some credit to Miami. (They) tried to get us in some disadvantages, and they did. Took advantage of it with some switching.
“We just got to do a better job defensively. This all starts with defense.”
Miami shot an explosive 66.7 percent within the first nine minutes of the game. The Hurricanes were also making the Tar Heels pay from deep, sinking three of their five 3-point shots in that same time period.
“We had our minds set that we were going to come and we were going to win the game,” Motley said. “So it was never in the back of my head that we were going to lose at all.”
North Carolina did step up its defensive intensity late in the first half to claw back into the game, and with a 25-5 run that stretched into the second half, it seemed like the Tar Heels were going to stave off the Hurricanes.
Sophomore forward Xylina McDaniel played a big role in that run and sparked the Tar Heels’ offense at the beginning of the second half, scoring the team’s first seven points in the period. McDaniel’s ended the first half with just three points, but wound up finishing with 18 total because of a re-energized second half.
“My teammates really got me pumped up for the second half,” she said.
But McDaniel’s performance wouldn’t be enough to complete the comeback. Diamond DeShields was struggling to find her stroke from deep, as she shot just 1-for-9 from 3-point range. The team also wasn’t converting free throws, and every time UNC would get on a run, Motley would have an answer on the other end of the court.
“At the end of the day, it’s really the free throws and the easy shots that would have won the game for us,” McDaniel said.
UNC went to the line 31 times throughout the game, but converted on just 16 of them — 15 easy shots left out on the court.
“If we made our foul shots, it would have been different,” Calder said. “Nobody went up there and missed them on purpose. We’ll continue to work on them.”
Now North Carolina is trying to figure out what it needs to do to stop this two-game skid. The Tar Heels lost back-to-back games at home against unranked teams, and their next stop is in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.
Calder said UNC will just continue to work on the fundamentals, and he added that the team did a good job limiting the turnovers — just 10 — against Miami.
“We just gotta keep working,” he said. “Keep practicing our shooting and our defense, and taking care of the basketball.”
For junior guard Danielle Butts, who scored 13 points, it all comes back to the talk on the court.
“I think it’s communication,” she said.
“Earlier in the year we were communicating and then obviously we got into a kind of dry spell, kind of got a little complacent a couple games.
“It’s just the little things we’ve got to capitalize on to get back.”
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