Brittany Rountree scored 17 points, including two free throws with 12.5 seconds left, to help North Carolina beat North Carolina State 70-66 on Thursday night.
Waltiea Rolle added 16 points for the Tar Heels (16-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who rallied from 10 down early in the second half to beat the Wolfpack (8-8, 0-4) for the 22nd time in 26 meetings.
North Carolina has won nine straight games, with the last three -- including one against No. 10 Maryland -- coming by a combined 10 points in the past week.
The Tar Heels improved to 5-0 in games decided by four or fewer points. They trailed at halftime in three of those games, including Thursday night.
"I've given more unbelievable halftime speeches this year than I've ever given," Hatchell said. "I think they're behind at halftime just so I'll have to do that. I had the measuring tape out at halftime, I asked about measuring the size of their heart. I had a lion in the locker room that was growling, all kinds of stuff."
The Tar Heels are 4-0 in the league for the first time since their perfect 14-0 run through the 2007-08 season.
"She keeps telling us after every game, `Y'all are going to give me a heart attack if y'all don't start playing harder," senior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt said. "I don't know if it's we like to hear her halftime speeches or not, but I know we always pick it up in the second half."
Ruffin-Pratt knocked down the go-ahead jumper from the left elbow to make it 60-58 with 2:25 to play, then Rountree scored a layup off a turnover by Marissa Kastanek to push the lead to 62-59. After a pair of free throws from Kastanek, the Tar Heels finally got some cushion when Danielle Butts scored on a stickback with 1:02 left and Rountree followed with two free throws that made it 66-61 with 43.8 seconds left.
Kastanek hit a 3-pointer with 17.7 seconds left to pull the Wolfpack within 68-66, and then NC State had a chance to tie when Rountree missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the line. But after grabbing the rebound, NC State center Markeisha Gatling threw the outlet pass out of bounds to give it right back to UNC and set up Rountree's final free throws.
Kastanek scored 20 points to lead the Wolfpack, who hit nine 3-pointers and outrebounded the Tar Heels 43-37. But NC State finished with 23 turnovers that the Tar Heels converted into 24 points, 14 coming after halftime.
"Midway through the second half, we were a little bit stagnant," NC State coach Kellie Harper said. "We weren't moving as much, we may have been a little winded. And in our offense, (when) you get tired and stand, good things do not happen."
The Wolfpack ran off seven straight points after halftime to take a 38-28 lead. After the Tar Heels rallied to tie it with 12 1/2 minutes left, neither team led by more than a basket until UNC seized control in the final 45 seconds.