After every poor shooting performance this season, North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell has reiterated the strength of her team’s 3-point shooting, referring to her No. 6 Tar Heels (9-1) as a “very good shooting team” with an “arsenal of good 3-point shooters” who would connect from deep when the team needed it.
But after an abysmal outing — 7.1 percent from beyond the arc and 46.2 percent from the foul line — in Tuesday’s 70-55 home loss against No. 16 Oregon State, Hatchell had a much simpler descriptor for her team’s lackluster stroke: bad.
“We were 1-14 from 3; that’s really bad,” Hatchell said. “In the second half we were 7-20 from the foul line. That’s pretty bad.
"Our shooting was really, really bad tonight.”
North Carolina’s struggles extended across the floor, as consistent inside threats Stephanie Mavunga and Xylina McDaniel combined to miss 26 shots on under 25 percent shooting.
“We got the ball inside and got good shots in there, but we couldn’t get them to go in,” said Hatchell, whose team finished 27.6 percent from the field. “If we shot the ball better, we would have won.”
As detrimental as the team’s poor shooting was, it wasn’t the only damaging factor in its defeat.
For a team that thrives on second-chance looks and transition buckets, UNC was fundamentally beaten on the boards, giving up 36 defensive rebounds and finishing with a measly four fast break points.
“I was not pleased with the rebounding; I have not been pleased with it and I’ve been on them about the rebounding,” Hatchell said. “I thought that was a major, major factor in this game. We have got to make more of a commitment to rebounding and not getting boxed out.”
Despite forcing nine more turnovers than the Beavers (8-0) and committing six fewer fouls — contributing to 19 extra shot attempts — nothing seemed to go right for the Tar Heels.
“I was thinking, ‘I just don’t understand why this is happening today,’” said McDaniel after finishing with eight points and four rebounds. “I really don’t understand why our shots weren’t falling, why we can’t get in and rebound, why we can’t finish. I don’t know.”
One possible explanation for North Carolina’s uncharacteristic showing? The opponent.
Riding a 16-game regular season win streak coming into the game, Oregon State relied on its trusted junior center Ruth Hamblin — who finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks — to lead the Beavers to their first road game against a top-10 opponent in school history.
“I thought our team really locked them up defensively,” said Oregon State coach Scott Rueck, whose Beavers boast the fourth-ranked field goal percentage defense in the nation. “I thought we could stop their initial shot; their initial looks in their sets.”
And once Oregon State made the first stop, it all came down to the defensive rebound.
“That’s what we talked about and worked on all week: we’re going to make them possibly miss that first one, it’s the second one we have to get,” Rueck said. “We executed our game plan at a high level.”
Following the resounding win — one in which they never trailed — the Beavers were elated to claim victory over such a prestigious UNC program on the Tar Heels' home floor.
“I have a lot of respect for the program. Coach Hatchell is obviously a Hall of Fame coach and a legend, and so we’re privileged to play here,” Rueck said. “I’m really proud of our team today.”
However, pride was a point of contention for the aforementioned Hall of Famer.
After suffering the season’s first defeat — only the fourth non-conference home loss for UNC since the 2001-02 season — Hatchell did not take kindly to Oregon State’s display of excitement.
“I’ve been here a long time, this place is special,” Hatchell said. “It really bothers me when other teams celebrate on the middle of our court. I’m not saying they’re bad sports or anything. I’m not saying that at all, because they beat us and they deserve to have some celebration. But still. We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears out there every day. I’m that competitive and this place means that much to me.”
“We filmed it. They will see it.”
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