When the contract for Tennessee to play last season and this one UNC was originally signed, the matchup was supposed to be between Hall of Fame coaches Pat Summitt and Sylvia Hatchell, who many long years ago was one of Summitt’s assistants with the Lady Vols.
But a year and a half ago Summitt became the Vols’ head coach emeritus, as she resigned because of her Alzheimer’s disease. And then last month, Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia.
So acting coach and long-time Hatchell assistant directs the No. 12 Tar Heels (1-0), while second-year mentor Holly Warlick heads up the No. 4 Lady Vols (1-0) in front of the national audience on ESPN2. UNC’s No. 1 recruiting class in the country will get its first big collegiate test tonight.
On this night the more experienced Lady Vols are just a little better, holding off the Tar Heels down the stretch to win 81-65.
Tennessee scores 10 straight to take a 14-6 lead on a Meighan Simmons layup with 11:00 left in the half and never trails again.
The Lady Vols shoot 40.3 percent for the game to UNC’s 30.4 and win the rebound battle 49-44 but commit 24 turnovers to the Tar Heels’ 23.
Ariel Massengale leads Tennessee with 20 points, followed by Isabelle Harrison with 14 and Andraya Carter 10.
UNC gets 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench from freshman Allisha Gray and 11 points and 12 rebounds from classmate Stephanie Mavunga. Brittany Rountree adds 13 points while Xylina McDaniel chips in 12 with 10 rebounds.
They said it …
Calder: “Tennessee has a really talented team and I wish them the best of luck. We’re going to continue to work and get better. It’s my responsibility to make sure we get good shots. We didn’t get into our offense as much as we wanted to. We’re talented and we’re going to be very good when it all clicks and we learn to play together.”
Warlick: “North Carolina — they’re going to be fine. They’ve just got to get used to the tempo and the atmosphere. They’re a great basketball team. Very athletic. They’ll figure it out. We were a young team like that last year.”
Rountree: “We just came together better as a team after halftime. We got our defense going and that got the offense going. When we get down, we just have to keep believing in each other.”
What does it all mean?
That Tennessee is good enough to beat a very good team on the road. And that UNC’s freshmen are definitely for real.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Harrison’s bucket with 1:40 left to make it 80-63.
UNC: Lost 1.
Tennessee: Won 2.
Tennessee leads 16-3.
Tennessee vs. Chattanooga, Thursday, 7 p.m.
UNC at UCLA, Sunday, 6 p.m.