Hatchell's halftime message ignites UNC
Updated: January 30, 2006, 12:42 AM ETBy David Albright | ESPN.com
DURHAM, N.C. -- The message was simple.
At halftime, trailing by 13 points in a hostile environment, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell told her team to start living up to its reputation as the most physically gifted team in the country. "I thought the first half Duke was outplaying us," Hatchell said. "They were getting all the loose balls, all the tie-ups. They just played harder than we did in the first half, like they wanted it more. And I felt like we were backing off of them too much on defense and we don't do that. "Our backs were against the wall and we had to produce. I think we shifted gears and moved to a higher level. It's pretty simple. Take advantage of our athleticism and our quickness." Simply put, they out-duked Duke in the final 10 minutes of the game, overcoming a 12-point deficit down the stretch for a 74-70 win before a sellout crowd of 9,314 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday night. In the process, the Tar Heels (20-0, 7-0 ACC) are now all alone as the nation's only unbeaten team. And what will follow is a move up one slot to the nation's No. 1 team when the new AP (Monday) and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls (Tuesday) are released early this week. The contrast between the first and second halves was striking. On its way to 40-27 first-half lead, Duke (20-1, 7-1 ACC) pounded the Heels on the boards (25-15), shut them down from the floor (38.7 percent shooting) and forced them into 12 turnovers -- which were converted into 16 Blue Devil points. After halftime, it was another story. UNC forward Erlana Larkins set the tone by hitting two early 3-pointers, one more than she had converted all season prior to Sunday night. That trimmed the Duke lead to eight, and it also sent a message that UNC wasn't going to wilt away like Tennessee did six days earlier in this same building. The Blue Devils extended the lead back to 12 before Hatchell called a time out at 10:08 with Duke leading 58-46 and changed the dynamic of the game.
AP Photo/Sara D. Davis Monique Currie, top, and Duke didn't have an answer for UNC's Erlana Larkins.
|“||[The Tar Heels] played a really good game, but they played a great second half. I thought they were the aggressor on both ends of the floor. We didn't do a good job of taking care of the basketball and we knew that was going to be a key. Against a great team you have to do the little things well and North Carolina made us pay for it." ”|
|— Duke coach Gail Goestenkors|