Although the Tar Heels couldn’t hold on to their first halftime lead since Jan. 3, Summers’ performance proved to be a bright spot — something the team can work off during a season that has at times been disheartening.
Sporting a knee brace on her right knee, Summers set high screens on nearly every offensive play, helping open up Tar Heel shooters. She also added a team-high 10 rebounds, which helped propel the team to a 32-28 lead at halftime.
More than three years removed from an ACL tear, Summers’ knee was a bit of a hinderance in the game, as a grimace appeared on her face as she jogged down the court.
“She’s not going to tell you that it (hurts),” Coach Sylvia Hatchell said about Summers’ knee. “She’s never going to complain about it, but it does.”
Louisville (18-5, 10-0 ACC) ran a half-court trap for much of the first half, often leaving Summers mismatched against much smaller players. Cardinals coach Jeff Walz recognized the issue and immediately switched up the defensive scheme.
“We didn’t rotate very well at all,” Walz said.
“I’m not sure what we were doing, honestly — that was ugly.”
Averaging 9.7 points and 7.6 rebounds through 24 games, Summers has elevated her play this season. She’s also leading the team in field goal percentage and blocked shots as well as doing the little things, making her quite the unsung hero for a struggling UNC team.
Even though the Tar Heels weren’t able to pull off the win, Summers finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, all while playing a game-high 38 minutes on an ailing knee.
Hatchell said she’s been impressed with Summers’ play of late, but in order for this team to right the ship, it’s all about keeping tough.
“I went seven months not knowing if I was going to live or die, and you don’t know how strong you’re going to be until strong is all you have,” Hatchell said. “I’ve tried to teach them the toughness I have.”