The North Carolina women’s basketball team hoped to start this season off with a bang against Hampton after winning by more than 40 points in its most recent exhibition game. However, that wasn’t the case on Friday evening, as the Tar Heels lost in a tough 70-66 upset to the Pirates.
Despite the close score, the Tar Heels didn’t see a lead for over 23 minutes of play, after gaining an 8-7 lead early. Over that period, Hampton extended its lead to as much as 10 points. Once Carolina took a 44-43 lead late in the 3rd quarter, they held control of the game and even got out to a 7-point lead. This didn’t last for long though, as a couple of threes catapulted Hampton back on top through the game’s finish.
The most notable force of the Pirates’ dominance was the hot hand of Monnaz Finney-Smith, sister of Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dorian Finney-Smith. Monnaz shot 7-12 behind the three point line in a lights out 25 point performance.
As a whole, Hampton shot 11 for 24 from three, compared to Carolina’s 2 for 12, and UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell focused on the importance of that in her post-game statement.
“We did some good things, but we’ve been shooting the three-ball good and we didn’t tonight. They made eleven and we made two. They get 33 points off of it and we get six. So that’s a big difference right there,” said Hatchell.
There were some positive notes for the Heels though. Senior guard Paris Kea scored 24 points, along with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Jocelyn Jones, Janelle Bailey, and Jamie Cherry joined Kea in the double-digit scoring column with 14, 12, and 10 respectively.
Even with all of the threes, it wasn’t a pretty game for either teams. There were 43 total turnovers committed, 22 for the Heels and 21 for the Pirates.
Coach Hatchell blamed the turnovers on physicality. “They were coming at us and pressuring us, up all over Jamie (Cherry) and everything like that but also inside… Quite a few times they were taking the ball right out of our hands. They were physically stronger than we were and more aggressive than we were.”
Hatchell stressed that this is no reason to start worrying yet though, with it being so early in the schedule. "We’re going to play a good Colorado team on Sunday. We’re just getting started. We’ll learn from this.”
The team will play their next game this Sunday at home against Colorado at 2 pm.
Photo by Caleb Jones