Chapel Hill, NC -- The 12 and 7 UNC Tar Heels hosted the 16 and 2 Miami Hurricanes, ranked 3rd in the ACC, in a snowy Chapel Hill this Sunday, January 17th, and the Hurricanes beat the Heels with a score of 76 to 61.
This win for the Hurricanes marked Miami head coach Katie Meier's 200th victory. Meier said, "This is a great win for us."
The Tar Heels, now playing with a newly shortened line-up after senior forward Xylina McDaniel tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her right knee this past Thursday against Georgia Tech, fought hard but couldn't outlast the Hurricanes in the end.
The Hurricanes stormed onto the court looking very strong, grabbing the first basket of the game, but the Tar Heels found their own force and out-hustled the Hurricanes for a good portion of the first quarter. And although the Heels might have feared that the lack of McDaniel's presence on the court would hinder their energy, UNC appeared unaffected in that regard.
The Tar Heels lived up to their motto by playing ‘smart, fast, physical' basketball, but at the end of the first quarter, Miami led UNC by three with a score of 21 to 18. Summers went three-for-four leading the Heels tying Miami's lead scorer Adrienne Motely with seven points.
At the end of an exciting first half, Miami had increased their lead to 41-35, leading UNC by five points. Both teams continued to push the pace of the game and played impressive transition defense. In the first half UNC had 11 turnovers and Miami had seven, while both teams each had four steals.
Motley continued to lead the Hurricanes with 12 points, and Jessica Thomas added her own eight points into the mix. The two lead scorers for UNC, Hillary Summers and Stephanie Watts, each had nine points, and N'Dea Bryant captured her own eight points and was leading the Tar Heels in rebounds with nine boards.
At the start of the second half, the Hurricanes and the Tar Heels continued to move the ball up and down the floor incredibly quickly. The Tar Heels went on multiple short runs to close the lead, but the Hurricanes seemed to answer every made basket. At the end of the third quarter Miami had tied their largest lead at this point in the game leading by nine, with a score of 59 to 50.
In the fourth quarter, the Hurricanes continued to grow their lead, and with four minutes and forty five seconds left in the game, they led UNC 68 to 54. When UNC transitioned to their smaller line-up, Miami began to move the ball into the post, taking advantage of mismatches. While the Tar Heels were struggling to find the basket, the Hurricanes seemed to be finding all of the open lanes.
Though the Heels were struggling to score, their intensity and hustle remained, but in the end they couldn't close the gap. Miami, led by Motley, won the contest with a score of 76 to 61.
Miami's Adrienne Motley finished the game with 20-points, while Jessica Thomas and Laura Cornelius each added their own 13. UNC's leading scorer Stephanie Watts finished the contests with 19 points after playing all 40 minutes. The early-star Hillary Summers, also has her own 17 points, and N'Dea Bryant added her own 12.
Coach Meier also took the opportunity to recognize UNC's level of play by stating, "What an unbelievable performance by Summers and Bryant." Bryant and Summers both finished the contest with a double-double.
UNC Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell also made a point to tout her players' performance. She said she thinks that Stephanie Watts is "the best freshman in the country," and Hatchell also praised N'Dea Bryant's play by saying, "I love her jump shot."
"Miami has a very good team," said Hatchell. "I think we got tired...They were running in ten or eleven kids and we - of course - ran six." She added, "Everyone thinks ‘well this is the year to beat Carolina, but they better watch out."
N'Dea Bryant said, "whether we are top ten in the country or not ranked at all, beating Carolina is at the top of their list."
Lead scorer and Miami junior guard Adrienne Motely, attributed their win to their precise level of play. "Everybody is going to come and play hard against us, but we just play Miami basketball," she said.
Miami, now 17 and 2 and 5 and 1 in the ACC will play Boston College this coming Wednesday in Chestnut Hill, while the 12 and 8 Tar Heels will travel to Winston-Salem this Thursday to play Wake Forest.