MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The numbers are hard for even Sylvia Hatchell to take in.
She became the third women’s Division I coach to net her 1,000th career victory — just ahead of Geno Auriemma of Connecticut.
Hatchell reached the milestone Tuesday after her North Carolina Tar Heels beat Grambling State 79-63. She is 1,000-376 during a 43-year career that started with 11 seasons at Francis Marion.
“As far as the 1,000 wins, gosh, I just can’t believe I’ve coached that many games,” said Hatchell, who has battled leukemia and was declared cancer-free in 2014.
Later Tuesday, Auriemma became the fourth member of the 1,000-win club when top-ranked UConn beat Oklahoma. Auriemma was the fastest ever to 1,000 wins, doing it in 1,135 games.
Haskell is in her 32nd season at North Carolina, and she has led the Tar Heels to eight ACC titles, three Final Fours and the 1994 national championship.
Jamie Cherry scored 22 points and Janelle Bailey added 15 for the Tar Heels (10-2), who shot 47 percent and outscored the Tigers 60-40 over the final three quarters after falling behind early.
“I still love the game. I was telling the staff before the game, ‘I still get so nervous,'” Hatchell said. “It’s a good nervous, but I still get so nervous. And with the way we played in the first quarter, now you know why I get nervous because we didn’t start out very good at all.”
Hatchell is 728-286 with the Tar Heels, and another milestone could come later this season. She’s 11 wins shy of former Virginia coach Debbie Ryan’s record for most victories at an Atlantic Coast Conference women’s program.
“The fact that I still get nervous and get the jitters, but it’s the good jitters before all the games. Whenever I lose that, that will be time to let somebody else do it,” Hatchell said. “But I’ve got it now just as much as ever. And what I’ve gone through the last few years has absolutely renewed my passion for the game and for winning, especially at UNC.”
Hatchell and Auriemma joined Tennessee coach Pat Summitt (1,098) and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (1,018) among women’s coaches in the 1,000-win club. On the men’s side, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has 1,082 victories.
Hatchell is the only coach to win national titles at the AIAW, NAIA and NCAA levels, capturing the first two of those at Francis Marion in 1982 and 1986.