by Mike Potter
GREENSBORO COLISEUM UNC comes into the ACC Women’s Basketball tournament on a four-game losing streak, and coach Sylvia Hatchell and her Tar Heels are looking for some redemption.
Clemson is actually the most recent team the Tar Heels beat — 60-47 on Feb. 10 at Littlejohn Coliseum in a game Hatchell didn’t like very much.
The Tigers come in on a six-game losing streak in their first season under Itoro Coleman.
UNC isn’t quite hitting on all cylinders but the Tar Heels are more than good enough to survive, holding off the pesky underdogs 78-64.
The Tar Heels score the first nine points of the game, ending in Cetera DeGraffenreid’s steal and layup at 16:38, and never trail.
But Clemson cuts it to 20-19 on a Chancie Dunn jumper with 9:20 left in the half, and trails only 41-34 at halftime.
UNC’s biggest lead is 16 points, on Laura Broomfield’s three-point play that makes it 78-62 with 30 seconds left.
Italee Lucas leads the Tar Heels with 14 points, followed by DeGraffenreid, Jessica Breland and Chay Shegog with 11 apiece.
Kirstyn Wright leads Clemson with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Kelia Shelton chips in 14 points.
UNC shoots 44.9 percent to the Tigers’ 36.6 but loses the rebound battle 46-44. The Tigers turn the ball over 25 times to UNC’s 15.
They said it …
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “We’re happy for victory. Clemson gave us some runs in there and they kept coming back after us. But I thought Cetera did a really good job running the team tonight, not just with her shooting, but she had eight assists and one turnover with six steals and that’s pretty good. And I felt Italee did a good job. She shot 50 percent tonight and that was good. The only thing I’m not happy about is the rebounding. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Clemson coach Itoro Coleman: “I thought both teams played hard tonight, I really did. We were able to outrebound North Carolina, which was one of our goals going into the game, so I was really proud of the team for doing that. North Carolina did a really good job of attacking our zone, in particular Jessica Breland at the free-throw line. She hit some really key shots. It felt like when we made a run she would hit one shot, and then they would make a big run.”
Lucas: “After this game, we’re excited for the win. We keep telling ourselves three more, one down. We just want to keep focus for the next three games.”
DeGraffenreid: “This is a new season, and we had four games to go in the season and then whatever we do in the NCAA Tournament. We just look at it as that (regular) season is over and now we have a championship to win.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
DeGraffenreid’s steal and layup to make it 24-19 with 7:58 left in the half.
UNC leads 50-26.
UNC: Won 1.
CU: Lost 7.
UNC vs. Florida State, Friday, 8 p.m.
Clemson in 2011-12 season opener.