UNC (14-11, 4-8 ACC) outshot the Wolfpack from the field by over 16 percentage points through the opening 10 minutes, as sophomore guard Taylor Koenen and first-year forwards Jaelynn Murray and Janelle Bailey combined for 13 of UNC's 15 first-quarter points.
The shots stopped falling after that, however. From the second quarter onward, the Tar Heels only made 15 of 50 field-goal attempts. In the second quarter, UNC was outscored 20-6. Senior guard Jamie Cherry (11 points) and redshirt junior guard Paris Kea (21 points), two of UNC’s go-to players offensively, combined to only make 2 of 14 3-pointers. The Tar Heels, as a team, shot 10.5 percent from distance.
Cherry didn’t think N.C. State did anything specific to alter her shot. Instead, she thinks it was just one of those days where her shot couldn’t fall.
“I thought everybody played hard today,” Cherry said. “Like Coach said, we didn’t knock down shots. Me and Paris, we didn’t knock down shots that we normally knock down. But other than that, our rebounding wasn’t too good.”
That much was evident on the box score. Although they only shot 33.8 percent as a team, the Wolfpack outrebounded UNC 58-36. Twenty of those boards came on the offensive end of the court, as the Tar Heels struggled with N.C. State’s physicality and athleticism. As a result, the Wolfpack had eight more second-chance points than UNC and shot 12 more free throws than the Tar Heels did.
“We got stops, and then we just had bad breaks as far as offensive rebounds,” Cherry said. “I thought that was the major thing. Every time we would try to come back – offensive rebound, put-back or a 3-point shot. So that was definitely the major difference."
Despite UNC’s recent struggles, Hatchell said effort hasn’t been an issue with her group of players, which keeps her optimistic.
“They’re working hard,” she said. “They’ve actually had some of their own practices, whenever the coaches didn’t call it or it wasn’t a scheduled time. They’re doing some of their own stuff. The chemistry of the team is great; they’re working hard. We’ve had some really, really good practices.”
In her postgame news conference, Hatchell offered a reminder of what UNC’s accomplished this season as a way of showing what they can still achieve with what’s left of the season.
The Tar Heels rallied from 19 points to beat Duke, are undefeated in overtime contests and hold non-conference wins against opponents including Minnesota, Washington and Colorado.
“We’ve beaten some good teams,” she said. “But when we shoot well, we can hang in there and play tough with people.”
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