On the next possession, redshirt junior forward Hillary Summers sank a jump shot. Twenty seconds later, sophomore guard Jamie Cherry drained her own 3-pointer. With each basket, the memory of the 29-point loss against N.C. State on Jan. 31 was slowly fading away.
But in the second quarter, the Wolfpack started making shots and the Tar Heels started making mistakes — shades of the first match-up. The Wolfpack out-scored the Tar Heels 26-12 in the second quarter en route to an 80-66 victory and a season sweep over UNC for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
“We started out great,” Coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “We were fired up and making shots. N.C. State has a lot of weapons, they’re a very veteran team ... They started making shots, and we started making mistakes.”
In January’s match-up, the Wolfpack held a 33-28 advantage at halftime. To begin the second half, N.C. State used a 28-11 run to bolster its lead to 61-39.
In that third period, the Tar Heels committed four turnovers, shot 31 percent and ended the quarter with a made field goal drought of three minutes and 48 seconds.
On Sunday, the Tar Heels’ mishaps began before halftime. UNC held a 36-21 lead in the second quarter, but N.C. State used an 18-0 run to take a 39-36 advantage into the locker room.
In Sunday’s second quarter, UNC shot 33 percent from the field, committed four turnovers and ended the period with a scoring drought of five minutes and 40 seconds.
“Sometimes we didn’t match up on transition defense,” said Watts, who scored a career-high 30 points. “That’s one of the main things that we try to work on in practice. That led to a couple quick threes.”
In January’s game and Sunday’s game, first-year guard Destinee Walker said the Wolfpack’s attack was led by junior guards Miah Spencer and Dominique Wilson.
Spencer and Wilson combined for 18 points during the third period burst in the first match-up. On Sunday, the duo combined for 12 points in the second period.
“They stepped up in the second quarter this game,” Walker said. “They put the team on their back. They hit wide open threes to go on the 18-0 run.”
Hatchell said young guards Walker and Watts made mistakes, but are continuing to improve.
She added that the season has been full of growing pains, and Sunday’s breakdown simply served as a microcosm.
“It’s been like that this year,” Hatchell said.
“We play really good at times and then the momentum gets turned and it’s hard to right the ship.”