When North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell spoke to Mercer head coach Susie Gardner on the phone last week, Hatchell had a feeling the Tar Heels’ contest with the Bears would be no cakewalk.
However, it is unlikely that Hatchell predicted that her team would unravel down the stretch the way it did. North Carolina (10-3) blew a 16-point lead with nine minutes left in the game and fell to Mercer (12-2) at home, 86-97.
“I was talking about her team and she said, ‘Oh yeah, this is the best team we’ve ever had,’" Hatchell said. "And [she said] that they were a veteran team and experienced and very talented. When a coach says all that to another coach about their team, that’s pretty good. You’ve got to be pretty confident when you’re actually out there saying that to your opponent.”
UNC played a solid game for three quarters, but couldn’t sustain its effort. Redshirt junior guard Paris Kea had her 26th consecutive double-figure scoring game with 26 points, three assists and four rebounds. First-year center Janelle Bailey also had a strong performance, finishing the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. However, Bailey saw limited minutes in the second half due to foul trouble, and she fouled out with 3:42 left to play.
This was the fourth time that Bailey has fouled out this year.