BOSTON — North Carolina turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions late in the second half, and coach Sylvia Hatchell was steamed. She stomped her foot and yelled at her players to take better care of the ball.
Never mind that the Tar Heels led by 31 points with just over a minute left.
She didn't win 900 games by holding back.
Hatchell became the third women's coach in NCAA history to join the 900-win club on Thursday night, reaching the milestone when No. 16 North Carolina beat Boston College 80-52. As the players dribbled out the final seconds, Hatchell finally let a smile come over her face and accepted the congratulations from her assistant coaches and even one of the referees.
"We haven't even talked about it the last few days. They really were very focused tonight," said Hatchell, who missed her first chance at the milestone on Sunday when the Tar Heels lost to No. 5 Duke. "It's nice to get that win."
Xylina McDaniel had 15 points and seven rebounds for North Carolina (21-3, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 14 with six rebounds and six assists, and Krista Gross had 12 points and eight rebounds.
"It's a great honor to be a part of this. All of the people before us helped us be here for this 900th win," Gross said. "To learn from such a great coach is a great honor."
Hatchell joins Pat Summitt, who had 1,095 wins, and Jody Conradt in the women's 900-win club, and with her next victory will pass Conradt and move into second place all-time. Hatchell is tops among active coaches, with Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer, a good friend, two wins behind.
Only three men's coaches have reached the 900-win mark – Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight.
"Sylvia has been one of the great ambassadors of the women's game, and it is so pleasing to see her reach the 900-win milestone in her career," Summit said in a statement released after the victory. "I wish her all the best as she continues to build on her truly amazing career!"
Hatchell has said she has always hated losing – ever since she was a girl and she would come home crying when her grandfather would beat her at checkers. She almost gave up on coaching in her very first year, applying for a job as a UPS driver after her team lost a couple of games in a row.
"I'm not a good loser, I am just telling you," she said. "I'm not a good loser, and I hope I never become one."
None of that is a surprise to Gross and Ruffin-Pratt, sitting on either side of their coach while wearing hats that said, "Sylvia Hatchell, 900 wins."
"Not at all," Gross said, still laughing. "When she told that story about losing at checkers, I was like, `I can see that. I can picture it.'"
Nicole Boudreau scored 16 points and Kristen Doherty added 13 with seven rebounds for Boston College (9-13, 3-8), which has lost six of its last seven games.
BC stayed close for about eight minutes before the Tar Heels went on a 15-2 run to turn a two-point lead into a double-digit advantage. Carolina led by as many as 17 points late in the first half, then used a 15-4 run early in the second to open a 27-point lead.
They scored seven in a row to make it a 64-32 game with about 11 minutes left.
As the Tar Heels reserves dribbled out the last 10 seconds, assistant coach Andrew Calder leaned over to give Hatchell a peck on the cheek and the referee leaned over toward the bench to say something. A handful of Carolina blue-clad fans in the sparse crowd stood to cheer when the public address announcer recognized the milestone.
Hatchell's husband, Sammy, and son, Van, surprised her by attending the game. Afterward, when she was conducting a radio interview courtside, Calder slipped a commemorative hat on her head.
Similar souvenirs marked her 500th, 600th, 700th and 800th victories – all against North Carolina State. When this year's schedule came out, Hatchell looked at the game against the Wolfpack on Feb. 24 and hoped for a new victim.
"I said, `I hope I get it before then because we don't play them for about three weeks," she said.
Hatchell, 60, is 900-317 in 38 seasons, including a 628-237 record and the 1994 NCAA championship in 27 years at North Carolina. She was 272-80 in 11 seasons at Francis Marion.