For a moment on Thursday afternoon, the North Carolina women’s basketball team finally put everything together against N.C. State.
But with a four-point lead and three minutes left in the third, the Tar Heels (13-6, 3-3 ACC) imploded, allowing the Wolfpack (15-5, 4-3 ACC) to close the period on a 14-2 run and seize a 52-44 lead en route to their 66-53 victory.
North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell opted not to settle her team down with a timeout, and she admitted that may have been a mistake.
“I probably should have called a couple of more timeouts,” she said, “but I felt like, ‘OK, we’re going to come down, and we’ll score and get the ball inside.’”
The Tar Heels were unable to get the ball inside largely because of Janelle Bailey’s absence. Bailey, a five-time ACC Rookie of the Week, picked up her third foul with six minutes left in the third and sat out the rest of the third quarter. Losing their top rebounder and third-leading scorer left the Tar Heels’ rotation with a hole that was tough to fill.
“When I go out of the game, it takes something out of our team," Bailey said, "and I think that makes the other team go into attack mode.”
Hatchell also blamed her team’s inexperience both for its costly shot selection and poor defense during the disastrous run.
“We took some shots that were costly and we just had a bad time there,” she said. “That’s when we need to get the ball in the right people’s hands and we gotta have people step up — our leadership — on both ends of the floor.”