Whew. Let’s all take a minute and a few deep breaths after the most nail-biting 25-point blowout of all time.
Actually, before I get into this one, lemme add two notes right quick.
- As I type, Syracuse PG Tiana Mangakahia just went out and kicked ass in her first game back after taking a year off to, y’know, BEAT BREAST CANCER. Having done a feature on her in a previous life, I can report that she is a truly wonderful, kind human in addition to being one of the best pure point guards I’ve ever seen. This is incredible and I may or may not be typing through tears right now.
- Yesterday, Sarah Fuller, the goalie for Vanderbilt’s SEC-champion soccer team, played in another kind of football game, and executed a perfect squib quick down the right sideline that was exactly what the ‘Dores dialed up. Predictably, a bunch of idiot misogynists took to Twitter to say the kick was bad. If you can’t recognize the play design, why Vandy made that call, or how well-placed Fuller’s kick was, maybe just shut the hell up. Also maybe stop watching football. Why watch something you don’t understand?
OK, about the game.
If I’d told you ahead of time Carolina would get a 95-70 victory out of this, your response would have been “ah, well, High Point was one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country last year. Surely they got hot to keep it even that close.” Nope. That’s not what happened at all.
In fairness, the Heels finished their last game less than 24 hours before this one tipped. High Point had yet to play yet this season, so they were going to have fresher legs. That still doesn’t account for getting smacked out of the gate the way Carolina did. After Petra hit a runner to open up the scoring (she has a better dribble-drive attack than we knew, as Coach Bang said in a recent interview), we went cold. Frigid, even. There were a lot of well-executed offensive possessions that ended in bricks and failing to secure rebounds. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ Skyler Curran put on an absolute clinic in the opening frame, scoring the next 17 points by either team, including absolutely crushing from behind the arc. The Heels came out flat and got punished early. Part of that was probably the short rest; part of it was also a young team who wiped the floor with their first two opponents and didn’t expect to be in a real fight before conference play.
UNC got the throttle in gear in the second quarter. The defense was more crisp and active, cutters started finding open floor near the rim on offense, and the shooting heated up after realizing this wasn’t going to be a walkover victory.
Carolina narrowed the deficit to five points at the half, came out spitting fire after the break, and salted the game away early in the final frame, never looking back.
Y’all: STEPH. WATTS. BACK. This was vintage Steph, the kind of game we saw in her first go ’round in Chapel Hill while she was racking up awards left and right. She logged a team-high 21 points, 12 boards, six dimes, five steals, and a block. Steph absolutely refused to lose this one, and was a blur all over the court.
Once again, five players finished in double figures scoring. In addition to Watts’ 21, three Heels logged a spicy 15 points each. Janelle, Anya and Alyssa all hit that mark, while combining for 26 of UNC’s 56 total rebounds. Petra put up a 12-2-2 on 50% shooting. And let me shout out KTW putting up seven points, four boards, a block, and some absolutely tremendous second-half defensive hustle.
Overall, lets just chalk this up to a lesson learned. Can’t take any game for granted, even if talent and depth allow Carolina to end an initially harrowing affair with a blowout. Still undefeated, still rolling. Go Heels.