DeShields, Tar Heels become only local team in Sweet 16 this year

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Diamond DeShields hits an open layup against Michigan State.
  • Photo courtesy ACCWBB DIgest/Dana E. Warren
  • Diamond DeShields hits an open layup against Michigan State.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL There’s only one college basketball team from the Triangle still playing.

And the young women’s squad from UNC, a rare team without a senior, gets one more home game in an attempt to get on an NCAA Tournament roll.

The Tar Heels (25-9), seeded No. 4 in the Stanford Regional, will take on No. 5 seed Michigan State (23-9), and it will be interesting to see if their first-round games here carry over at all.

UNC needed something close to a miracle to beat little UT Martin 60-58, while MSU annihilated Hampton 91-61.

And apparently the scare woke up the young Tar Heels.

Diamond DeShields responds with her first double-double of the year with 24 points and a season-high 12 rebounds as UNC is in control throughout in a 62-53 victory.

UNC has a 15-0 run during the second half, taking a 57-31 lead on a DeShields bucket with 11:27 to go before the Spartans get their pride back with a late surge.

Classmate Allisha Gray finishes with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Latifah Coleman chips in 10 points.

Jasmine Hines leads Michigan State with 16 points off the bench while Tori Jankoska chips in 14. MSU’s freshman All-America candidate Aerial Powers scores two points in 17 minutes.

UNC shoots just 36.5 percent while the Spartans hit 31.5. The Tar Heels win the rebound battle 41-40, but commit 19 turnovers to MSU’s 24.

And UNC’s post-game press conference is pure hilarity.

They said it …
Calder: “I know Coach Hatchell is extremely proud. The players were outstanding. Diamond’s defense on their point guard just took them out of everything. She had 12 defensive rebounds, which we’re really impressed with. Allisha Gray got seven defensive rebounds. I just thought it was a Carolina performance we’re all very proud of and want to take to the next game.”

MSU coach Suzy Merchant: “When (DeShields) is what she was tonight, you can’t stop her. I mean, her elevation on her jumper — I don’t even think (Spartan center) Madison Williams, if she was 100 percent healthy, could get to that shot.”

DeShields: “(The UTM game) hurt my pride a little bit as an offensive threat being held to four points in the first half. That’s uncommon for me, and with what’s at stake this season I knew I couldn’t do that anymore. I told myself that wasn’t going to happen tonight. I took my time a little more in finding better shots.”

Gray: “At this point, being a freshman is not an excuse. You’ve got to be smart as a player. It seems like we hadn’t played in a while (before Sunday) so we just had to get the little spider webs and cobwebs off of us.”

Stars of the game
1. DeShields.
2. Gray.
3. Coleman.

Play of the game
DeShields’ layup from Gray to make it 26-16 with 6:55 left in the first half.

Series record
UNC leads 4-1.

Streaks
UNC: Won 2.
MSU: Lost 1.

Up next
UNC vs. South Carolina-Oregon State winner, Sunday at Stanford.

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