Coastal Carolina women battle early, fall to North Carolina

ryoung@thesunnews.comDecember 16, 2012 

— Coastal Carolina women’s basketball coach Alan LeForce didn’t wait for the first question to be asked in his post-game media session before effectively summing up the Chanticleers’ afternoon Sunday.

“Well, you don’t win basketball games playing 17 minutes. The game is 40 minutes,” he said.

After a mostly competitive first half against No. 19-ranked North Carolina, the Chants stumbled through a woeful stretch after halftime and watched the Tar Heels pull away for a commanding 75-49 win before an announced crowd of 772 inside The HTC Center.

North Carolina is now 15-0 all time against Coastal, and all of those meetings have been decided by 18 or more points, so the outcome was in line with the series history. But after trailing only 27-23 late in the first half, the way the game dissolved so quickly was especially frustrating for LeForce.

The Tar Heels (10-1) closed the first half on a 12-4 run and then held the Chants (6-3) scoreless for the first 6:12 of the second half while starting to balloon the lead and ensuring there would yet again be no doubt as to the outcome.

“It just made us get down on ourselves because we weren’t hitting any shots,” junior guard Angelica Henry said.

Henry scored a game-high 15 points for Coastal and added four steals and four assists, but it was forgettable collective offensive performance for the Chants. They shot 26.7 percent from the field, went 1-of-12 on 3-pointers and committed 28 turnovers.

Freshman Antoinette Bannister came off the bench to score a team-high 13 points for North Carolina, while senior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt collected 11 points and five steals and senior Krista Gross tallied eight points, nine rebounds and six steals.

“You’re not going to beat anybody shooting 27 percent. We’ve got to shoot better, and we’re a better shooting basketball team than that,” LeForce said. “So it was a learning experience for us. They did nothing that we weren’t prepared for – we just couldn’t handle it.”

The clash with the Tar Heels was the marquee game on Coastal’s home schedule in its first season playing in The HTC Center and just the third time the teams have ever met in Conway. North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell has often brought her teams to the Grand Strand, though, and has a number of friends in the area. She talked after the game about those ties and her fondness for the community.

“It’s fun to come down here and play. We enjoy it a lot because of all the people,” Hatchell said. “Somebody said to me earlier today [that] I come down here for [Myrtle Beach Mayor] John Rhodes. Well, that’s probably true because we go back a long way and he’s done a lot for me and women’s basketball, so we want to come down here and play.”

Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.

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