by Mike Potter
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC faces yet another must-win game to hold its spot in the Top 25, and again it’s not an easy assignment.
No typos there. The rankings and records are the same.
This contest is the first between same-ranked teams by The Associated Press in women’s basketball since Jan. 14, 2003, when No. 14 Mississippi State beat No. 14 Vanderbilt 78-75. STATS LLC does not have a record of a men’s game matching same-ranked teams.
It’s a battle for fourth place in the ACC standings and the inside track for an all-important bye in the first round of the conference tournament.
Georgia Tech comes in with three straight wins in the series, but has not beaten a ranked team all season.
This time the Tar Heels lose a heartbreaker, seeing a seven-point lead disappear in the late going and falling 56-54.
It’s a pretty close game throughout.
UNC takes its biggest lead of the game at 51-44 on a Laura Broomfield layup with 6:41 to play but the Yellow Jackets take over from there, scoring 12 straight points until Brittany Rountree’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Sasha Goodlett leads the Jackets with 13 points, followed by Metra Walthour with 11 and Tyaunna Marshall 10.
Broomfield, who has fought off foot and eye injuries this season, had 15 points and 11 rebounds for just her second double-figure game in her last 15. It is her seventh double-double of the season.
Tech shoots 38.1 percent to 36.1 for the Tar Heels. UNC wins the rebound battle 39-37, but commits 18 turnovers to 15 for the Yellow Jackets.
They said it …
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “It’s an extremely disappointing loss, especially since we had that lead. You’ve got to make layups and we missed layups and put-backs, and with the clock running down we didn’t do some of the things we’re supposed to do. We didn’t attack the basket and we played like we were scared.”
Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph: “I’m really proud of the way we gutted it out down the stretch. We made plays at the end of the game and that says a lot about our character and resilience. At the end, it didn’t come down to scoring. It came down to defensive stops. In the seven losses we have, they were all to Top 15 teams in the country. We needed a win over a Top 25 team just to understand what it takes to get over that hump.”
Broomfield: ““I’m perfectly fine now. I’m healthy, no injuries. We came in with a good mentality today. Just down the stretch things just seemed to break down. We just needed to finish and we didn’t.”
Goodlett: “It’s tough going against great front-line players every night, but that’s just the ACC. I just came in with the mindset that I had to go hard and play my role for my team in order to be successful.”
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels, although in no immediate danger of losing their NCAA tournament spot, need to win when they’re favored to get the No. 5 seed in the ACC Tournament.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Dawnn Maye’s hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 with 31 seconds left to put the Yellow Jackets up 55-51.
UNC: Lost 3.
Ga. Tech: Won 1.
UNC leads 51-16.
UNC at Florida State, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.