No. 7 North Carolina 83, N.C.-Asheville 43
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—It took a little while for No. 7 North Carolina to wake up after a long trip home from Mexico.
Not-so-fresh from wins over No. 16 Arizona State and Texas Christian in a holiday tournament, the Tar Heels sleepwalked through the first 15 minutes of their non-conference, 83-43 win over North Carolina-Asheville on Tuesday night.
“It was a long traveling day on the way back. We were exhausted,” said Latoya Pringle, of the 12-hour trip home. “We were a little out of synch at times tonight.”
Down 20-15 midway through the first half, N.C.-Asheville trailed just 30-23 after a Leslie Young lay-up with 3:26 left before halftime.
“We were sluggish ever since getting off the airplane, and that affected us some” coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “We were also getting out-rebounded pretty good.”
Hatchell lit into her players about N.C.-Asheville’s 16-13 margin in first-half rebounds, and the Tar Heels responded with a 12-2 run that gave them a 42-25 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs never got closer than 48-30 in the second half as North Carolina won pulling away.
“The first half, we were competitive,” N.C.-Asheville coach Betsy Blose said. “The second half, they jumped on us.”
Pringle and Asheville native Rashanda McCants sparked the first-half run with consecutive put-backs. Erlana Larkins added consecutive baskets from the paint.
Larkins ended up with 13 points in 23 minutes of play, while Ivory Latta got 11 points and nine assists in 28 minutes. They were the only Tar Heels with more than 20 minutes of game time.
Every Tar Heel scored and got at least one rebound. Pringle came off the North Carolina bench to pick up 13 points in just 13 minutes of game time.
“Games like this are good because we get to play a lot of people and give them a lot of playing time,” said Hatchell.
No starter for N.C.-Asheville (4-1) scored more than six points. Wudi Alford led the Bulldog scoring with nine points off the bench.
“This game is a step for us,” Blose said. “If we’re fortunate enough to win the Big South (Conference), this is exactly the sort of team we’ll have to face in the tournament. But we won’t have to face another team like this the rest of the regular season.”
The Bulldogs committed 40 turnovers and hit just 32 percent (15-for-46) from the field.
“Turnovers was a stat that killed us,” Blose said. “They trapped us so much, we quit attacking the basket.”
North Carolina shot better than 45 percent for the third straight game.
“It should have been better than that,” Hatchell insisted. “We missed way too many easy lay-ups off those turnovers.”
Hatchell was more pleased with North Carolina’s final 40-33 margin in rebounds.
“We did much better rebounding in the second half,” she said. “That and our defensive pressure made a big different.”