CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Eighth-ranked North Carolina looked as bad as it possibly could in a first half that coach Sylvia Hatchell could hardly stand to watch. Making matters worse, it was coming against the Tar Heels’ fiercest rival.
“It was like a nightmare,” Hatchell said.
Fortunately, Rashanda McCants helped the Tar Heels finally start looking like themselves again.
The senior scored 19 of her 22 points in the second half to help North Carolina beat No. 4 Duke 75-60 on Monday night, continuing the Tar Heels’ recent dominance in the series.
Jessica Breland added 14 points and a career-high 23 rebounds for the Tar Heels (21-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who trailed by 12 points in a first-half performance filled with missed shots and turnovers. But North Carolina got back in it with a spurt just before halftime, then shot 64 percent and scored 50 points after the break.
North Carolina also took a 54-38 rebounding advantage against the Blue Devils (19-3, 7-2), who shot just 30 percent for the game.
“I told them, ‘Keep the tempo up, keep pushing it,’ ” Hatchell said of her halftime speech. “And we did. It played into our favor. It’s not always pretty, but it’s exciting. And it’s fun.”
McCants sparked the offensive turnaround, hitting 8 of 9 shots after the break after going just 1 for 4 in the first half.
“I’m a senior. I’m supposed to wake up,” McCants said. “I kind of put everything on my back and I credit my teammates for getting me easy baskets.”
The Tar Heels have won nine of the past 11 meetings after losing 12 straight in the series.
No. 11 Maryland 85, Boston College 81: At Boston, Kristi Toliver scored 19 points with seven assists, picking up a loose ball and hitting a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down in the final minute to lead Maryland (19-4, 7-2).
No. 23 South Dakota State 64, IUPUI 48: At Indianapolis, Maria Boever scored 19 points and Jennifer Warkenthien added 18 to help South Dakota State (23-2, 12-1) win its ninth straight game.