by Mike Potter
But this one should be easy.
Visiting tonight is Clemson (5-10, 1-3 ACC) which has lost 18 straight in the series. And although the Tar Heels (12-4, 2-2) have been blown out away from home by Penn State and South Carolina, they haven’t really had a bad loss.
And coach Sylvia Hatchell comes in looking for her 600th victory as UNC head coach.
That all changes tonight, and it comes out of nowhere.
The Tigers start quickly in both halves and win 52-47 as the Tar Heels score the fewest points in a home game in the history of the program.
Clemson jumps to an 8-0 lead before freshman guard Brittany Rountree scores her only points on a pair of free throws at the 16:49 mark.
UNC ties it 29-29 at halftime, but starts the second half on the wrong foot as well.
Clemson scores the first seven points of the second half, making it 36-29 when Lindsey Mason hits the first of two free throws with 16:44 to play.
UNC takes its last lead at 43-42 on a Tierra Ruffin-Pratt jumper at 7:27. But Kelly Gramlich’s 3-pointer with 4:47 remaining puts Clemson up for good at 46-43.
After a UNC turnover with four seconds left trailing 50-47, freshman guard Chelsea Lindsay out of Durham Hillside seals the outcome with a pair of free throws for the Tigers.
Clemson snaps a streak of 53 straight losses to ranked teams.
Quinyotta Pettaway, who is from Hertford, ties her career highs with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Tigers. Gramlich chips in 11 points.
Chay Shegog and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt score 11 each for the Tar Heels, while Krista Gross adds eight.
Clemson outshoots the Tar Heels 41.2 percent to 28.8. UNC shoots 21.2 percent after halftime and goes 1-for-17 from 3-point range.
The Tigers win the rebound battle 41-36, turning the ball over 25 times to the Tar Heels’ 19.
They said it …
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “We know how great we can be. Even playing the Maryland game (a 78-72 loss to the visiting No. 5 Terps on Sunday), but we were just the opposite out there tonight. I don’t want to take away from Clemson because they were ready for us and just walled up (Shegog) and were extremely physical with her. But we’ve got to knock some shots down. I thought we took good shots, but we got outrebounded and there’s no excuse for that.”
Clemson coach Itoro Coleman: “North Carolina is good, and we knew coming in we had our hands full. What I told the team before the game was that our focus should be on the things we could control. North Carolina is a really good rebounding team and they really get out in transition, and those were the things we needed to put our focus on to give us a chance. Quinyotta came up big for us. She scored when she needed a basket, which is really good. But it was an overall good team effort.”
Gross: “I don’t know where it began to unravel, but we just didn’t have it tonight. I don’t know where the lack of effort really came from but we didn’t have the same mentality we had going into the Maryland game.”
Pettaway: “I was really nervous going in, but like coach said we couldn’t focus on what North Carolina could do. We had to focus on what we could control like rebounding, boxing out and keeping the team together. If we had fallen apart early we would have lost the game.”
UNC leads 50-27.
UNC: Lost 2
Clemson: Won 1.
UNC at Connecticut, Monday, 7 p.m.
Clemson vs. N.C. State, Thursday, 7 p.m.