A couple of quick layups from Koenen and another from Bailey kept UNC’s momentum rolling to start the second half, but Wingate wouldn’t go down without a fight. The Bulldogs went on a run of seven unanswered points midway through the third quarter to pull them back into the game. However, a UNC rally to end the quarter ensured that eight points was the closest Wingate got.
Cherry and Kea took over in the fourth quarter, combining for 16 points to finally give the Tar Heels some breathing room. Murray also contributed four points to finish with six on her debut.
In the end, UNC won by 22, but the game felt closer than the final score indicated.
Who stood out?
North Carolina’s three starting guards: Koenen, Cherry and Kea, were undoubtedly the players of the game. The trio combined for 58 of the team’s 84 points, as well as 13 assists and 11 rebounds.
Koenen received praise from her coach after the game for her hard work this offseason.
“Taylor has really worked hard and improved her shot,” Hatchell said. “It really is a lot better.”
This was evident on Wednesday night, as she went 3-4 from three-point range and finished with 19 points.
For Wingate, the star of the night was senior Marta Miscenko, a 6-foot-4 center hailing from Riga, Latvia. Miscenko was absolutely dominant on the boards, hauling in nine rebounds, and she also led her team with 17 points.
When was it decided?
When UNC went into the half with a 15-point lead, it looked like a blowout was brewing. However, credit has to be given to Wingate for hanging tough and clawing back into the game, at one point closing the gap to just eight points in the third quarter.
Eventually, the Tar Heels’ offensive prowess proved too much to overcome for the Bulldogs, and a 7-0 North Carolina run early in the fourth quarter put the result beyond doubt.
Why does it matter?
While the game was just an exhibition, these preseason matchups are crucial for teams to start to gel before the regular season tips off in just nine days.
Hatchell herself acknowledged that the team is still improving.
“As these guys continue to play with each other they’ll learn more how to feed off each other,” she said. “A couple times we had passes they weren’t expecting and stuff like that … They’ll just continue to get better and better.”
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels have one more preseason exhibition game on Monday. They’ll be taking on Mount Olive in Chapel Hill.