UNC Women's Basketball: Be ready when your number is called

On Thursday night, Alexandra Zelaya proved how important it is for players to be ready for when their number is called upon.
Live Action with Carolina Basketball
Live Action with Carolina Basketball / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Coming into Thursday night's clash with No. 6-ranked NC State, Alexandra Zelaya went through a stretch where she didn't see the court much.

In fact, over her last three games, the senior played a total of 9 minutes, which could be difficult for a student-athlete to get in a groove with limited court time.

Days before the Tar Heels hosted the Wolfpack, Courtney Banghart sat down with Zelaya and flat-out told her that the team was going to need her on Thursday night.

Fortunately, Zelaya was ready when her number was called.

For the first time all season, Zelaya played more than 20 minutes, setting new career-highs in points (12) and three pointers made (4). Her production, which is more than just the stats that appear in the box score, played a huge role in the Tar Heels being able to knock off the No. 6-ranked team in the country.

The UNC women's basketball program has dealt with various injuries, as they haven't been able to get fully healthy essentially at all this entire season. Due to this, Banghart has been forced to mix and match, as Zelaya's presence was one that became a favorable matchup against NC State.

Given her ability to stretch the floor, Zelaya did what most ACC centers don't typically do. Not only did she take shots from beyond the arc but made them, forcing the defense to respect her wherever she was on the court.

That opened up opportunities for others.

It certainly takes a team effort to win basketball games, as you need more than just your starting unit to get the job done. Banghart put an emphasis on getting more production from the bench, as Thursday night was a prime example of how important reserves can be.

Zelaya's minutes may alter based on need, and there may be some instances where she doesn't see much of the court. Regardless, you can count on the fact that when her number is called, she'll be more than ready to help her team succeed.

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