CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell remained rather low-key on the bench on Thursday night. There were no foot stomps or dramatic pleas from any UNC coach, outside of an impassioned second-half call from assistant Andrew Calder to "go and rebound."
"I was trying to be calm," Hatchell said.
There was little need for outbursts as the No. 8-ranked Tar Heels (20-3, 5-2 ACC) picked apart Virginia Tech and cruised to a 93-77 victory at the Smith Center, gaining their third consecutive victory after dropping three straight from Jan. 19-25.
The Heels have now won 20 games or more in a season for eight consecutive years.
While the Heels were far from perfect, allowing the Hokies to shoot 53.1 percent from the field in the second half, they were pretty impressive at times with five players scoring in double figures.
UNC senior forward Rashanda McCants started the game 9-for-9 from the field and finished 9-of-11 for a game-high 23 points. She added six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 25 minutes.
UNC forward Jessica Breland added 20 points and 11 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season.
Still, as the Heels prepare to face rival Duke on Monday, the Heels lacked the defensive efficiency Hatchell said will be crucial against the fourth-ranked team in the nation.
Virginia Tech, paced by 21 points from Lindsay Biggs and 19 from Durham native Utahya Drye, found and capitalized on every breakdown.
"Not even Connecticut shot 50 percent on us," Hatchell said. "We had lots of break downs out there and gave them a lot of open shots."
She said players were not communicating, covering the wrong assignments and out of sync rotating. Off screens, she said post player did not step out to defend shooters.
Virginia Tech, which did not grab an offensive rebound in the first half,
fell behind early in the first half and never matched the Heels' speed in transition. "We didn't do a good job of getting back ... and they made us pay," Virginia Tech coach Beth Dukenberger said.
Lucas, who scored 18 points and was 4-for-11 from 3-point range, sent the Heels into halftime with a 48-32 lead after nailing back-to-back 3-pointers from the right arc. She hit 3-pointers both in transition and out of the half-court set.
"She took a couple bad shots tonight," Hatchell said. "When she takes bad shots, I take her out and get her refocused. Put her back in there, she plays well. Overall she's really playing well and her shot looks really good."
This season Lucas is shooting roughly 47 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range, showing an improved touch from outside.
"Just being on the wing has made the scoring process easier," she said.
"Usually I can tell when it comes off my hand it it's going in or out. I've just been working outside and hopefully it pays off."
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