FREEPORT, Bahamas -- Imam McFarland scored 16 points to lead No. 2 North Carolina, but one of her 14 rebounds may have been the most important play of the game.
McFarland grabbed her own miss and scored with 11 seconds remaining to help the Tar Heels hold on to beat Oregon State 82-78 on Saturday night in the title game of the Junkanoo Jam."Our coaches have been working us hard on getting aggressive around the basket, and really focusing on going after the ball," McFarland said. "We've had several rebounding practices recently, and I think that extra effort really paid off."The win was North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell's 791st, moving her closer to becoming the fourth Division I coach with 800 career victories."I thought we played really well in the first half, but we didn't maintain that same intensity in the second half," Hatchell said. "But the good thing is we won, and we'll learn a lot from a win like this. We've got to learn to dictate play and take it to the other team for the full 40 minutes, but we'll get better."Brittney Davis scored 22 points and Talisa Rhea added 18 for the Beavers (3-1).North Carolina (8-0) opened an 11-2 lead and cruised to a 45-30 halftime advantage, but the Beavers slowly cut down the deficit in the second half.The Tar Heels still led 75-62 with 6:25 left when they suddenly went cold, going scoreless for the next 4 1/2 minutes. Oregon State pulled within three on Brittany Kennedy's 3-pointer with 2:56 left, then to within one on a basket by Davis with 45 seconds remaining.North Carolina called a timeout and set up its offense, and Cetera DeGraffenreid missed on a long 3-point attempt. McFarland grabbed the loose ball, missed a putback, got her own rebound and finally scored to give the Tar Heels an 80-77 lead.Davis had a chance to tie the game when she was fouled on a driving layup, but the shot rimmed out. She missed the first of two free throws, then converted the second, but the Tar Heels sealed it from the free throw line."I'm really proud of the way our team played tonight," Oregon State coach LaVonda Wagner said. "We played as a team, we played with confidence and we fought hard. We were behind on rebounding and that was key in this game, but we should be very proud with our effort tonight."