RALEIGH — All season, Sylvia Hatchell, head coach of the North Carolina women's basketball team, has been adamant that her team deserves respect. In the past week, it has earned plenty.
Just seven days after taking down the reigning national champion and then-No. 1 Notre Dame in a shocking upset, UNC traveled to Raleigh and stunned a sold-out crowd at Reynolds Coliseum, as they took down N.C. State, 64-51.
The win was all the more impressive given that the No. 7 Wolfpack entered the game as the only remaining undefeated team in the entire country. Their record stood at 21-0. Hatchell was full of praise for her squad.
“It’s been a great week,” she said. “I’m so proud of these kids, and I just love them to death. They’re just great kids, and they work really, really hard.”
After starting ACC play with three straight losses, UNC has won five of its last six games to establish itself back in the middle of the pack of the conference and in the thick of the race for an NCAA Tournament bid.
“It’s been exciting for us,” guard Stephanie Watts said. “I wouldn’t want to be out here with any other group. We’ve just been really excited, but we’re never satisfied so we want more. We want to keep it rolling.”
Watts led the Tar Heels with 20 points, including a deep 3-pointer with under two minutes remaining to put the game on ice. The redshirt junior also stepped up in a big way in the first half to keep things close while teammate Paris Kea struggled offensively.
Kea, who had been averaging nearly 30 points a game over the previous three contests, did eventually find her rhythm in the second half, finishing with 17 points.
“I felt like I had to play through some of the fouls,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t get some of the calls, but I had to just tough it out, and I found my teammates when I drove to draw two (defenders) and they knocked it down.”