UNC’s Jessica Breland admits to dreaming about rebounding, literally.
I’d feel myself moving in my sleep to rebound, she said Thursday after snagging 11 rebounds and posting 20 points in a 93-77 win against ACC bottom-dweller Virginia Tech.
Maybe that’s because coach Sylvia Hatchell sneaked into her players’ dorm rooms before curfew to post signs that read “rebounding” above their beds and beside their mirrors.
It worked in the first half — Carolina outrebounded the Hokies by 13 and didn’t allow a single offensive board.
The Tar Heels led 48-32 at the half despite 16 turnovers, including six by starting guards Italee Lucas and Cetera DeGraffenreid.
The Hokies hung with the Heels in the second half, matching their 45 points mostly due to Lindsay Biggs nailing four out of seven second-half 3-pointers. Virginia Tech shot 49 percent for the game, and Hatchell was upset with the the Heels’ defensive performance.
“We just weren’t communicating, and we just had the wrong people on players,” Hatchell said. “In some of our rotations in our traps, we were getting really out of sync.”
Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger attributed the first-half rebounding woes to her team taking quick shots and not settling in on the offensive boards.
But in the second half Hatchell’s signs wore off. The Hokies matched the Tar Heels on the boards and climbed back into the game every time the Heels pushed the lead close to 20.
Rashanda McCants did her best Michael Jordan impression after feeling sick just before tip-off.
McCants started at a perfect nine for nine before missing her last two jumpers. She ended with 23 points and six rebounds — a good sign for the Tar Heels considering her five of 15 shooting performance against UConn and a nine-point performance against Maryland during the Heels’ three-game losing streak.
“My teammates contributed by getting me easy shots, and I just went with it,” McCants said.
Next up for the Tar Heels is No. 8 Duke at home Feb. 9.
If the Heels hope to win this game and get back on track to win the conference they must continue to crash the boards and limit turnovers — they had 26 against the Hokies.
Maybe a few more nights of rest underneath Hatchell’s signs will do the trick.