It was gritty, it was sloppy, and, for long stretches of the game, it was ugly. But for UNC, all that matters is that it was a win.
In a game in which both teams shot right under 30 percent from the field, UNC did just enough to sneak past a spirited Appalachian State team looking for its second win of the season by a score of 56-43.
“Appalachian State gave us all we could handle out there,” head coach Sylvia Hatchell said after the game. “They battled us hard inside, they were physical, they knew who could shoot, and they had a great game plan. It was the lowest we’ve shot in a long time, so you’ve got to give them a lot of credit but I was proud of our kids for pulling it out.”
Experienced guards Paris Kea and Jamie Cherry played every minute of the game and led the way on offense for the Tar Heels with 20 and 17 points, respectively. Taylor Koenen also made an impact on the stat sheet with ten rebounds and four assists.
For Kea, it was her 21st consecutive game with double-digit points, underlining just how important she’s been to the North Carolina offense. After Sunday night’s game, the redshirt junior gave the credit to her teammates for her outstanding run.
“My teammates help me get open off of screens,” she said. “Janelle (Bailey) and Naomi (Van Nes), our post players, are great at setting the screen up top, and definitely Jamie when she drives and kicks out to me it makes it a lot easier to score.”
Cherry has also been stellar of late. The senior has averaged over 15 points per game this season, and would be averaging even more if it weren’t for an uncharacteristically poor performance against South Alabama in which she went 0-10 from the field on her way to three points.
Apart from Kea and Cherry, however, the offensive stats for UNC were not pretty.
Bailey, a first-year center who hadn’t scored less than ten points in a game all season, finished the night with just five after going 1-10 from the field. Koenen, who had a four-game double-digit point streak of her own coming in, ended with just seven points.
When all was said and done, the Tar Heels had finished the game 17-57 from the field for a percentage of just 29.8. Luckily for them, Appalachian State registered an even worse figure, going 19-65 to finish at 29.2 percent for the game.
“They shot 29 percent too so it wasn’t the defense (that was the problem),” Hatchell said. “But it was a very off day for us offensively. Janelle usually makes her shots around the basket. Taylor? Same thing. So we weren’t hitting on all cylinders that’s for sure, but again give Appalachian State a lot of credit for that.”
Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, they don’t have too much time to work out their offensive kinks in practice. The team has a quick turnaround before playing again on Tuesday night against Presbyterian at Carmichael Arena.
“We have four games in six days, but that’s OK,” Hatchell said. “We’ve got exams getting ready to start … So we’ve got to get ready for Tuesday’s game, and then just learn from all this.”