Tar Heels blow past Virginia despite injured front line

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CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC looks to get its season back onto a solid winning track as long-time rival Virginia visits for a televised ACC game.

UNC forward Laura Broomfield
  • Photo courtesy UNC athletics
  • UNC forward Laura Broomfield
The No. 15 Tar Heels (17-3, 3-2 ACC) have lost three of their last six games — albeit to some very strong opposition with Connecticut winning here on Jan. 17 — while Virginia (12-9, 1-4) in an expected rebuilding year.

The one oddity on the slate is how the teams performed against Maryland. UNC was on the wrong end of an 88-65 blowout on Sunday, while the Cavaliers fell to the visiting Terps 77-75 in overtime on Jan. 21.

There will be a special ceremony at halftime, with the No. 42 of former guard Nikki Teasley honored.

UNC is missing senior forward Jessica Breland, who had arthroscopic knee surgery a week ago, for the Maryland game, while center Chay Shegog also suffered a concussion in that one.

Both will be unavailable tonight, but the positions seem to be in capable hands with Waltiea Rolle at center and Laura Broomfield at forward. The question will be depth up front.

The Tar Heels start slowly but finish fast, rolling to a 64-52 win.

Virginia takes a 10-4 lead on a 3-pointer from Ataira Franklin with 16:45 left in the period, but leading scorer Chelsea Shine picks up her second foul 15 seconds later and sits out the rest of the half.

UNC responds with a 13-2 run including eight points from She’la White to take the lead for good.

The Tar Heels lead 35-26 at the break behind 11 points from White. Paulisha Kellum has 11 for the Cavaliers.

Virginia never gets closer than seven points back after halftime, that on a pair of Franklin free throws to make it 35-28 with 19:32 left.

The Tar Heels get their transition going and lead by as many as 23, on Broomfield’s layup from Cetera DeGraffenreid that makes it 63-40 with 6:32 left before the Cavaliers make it more respectable with a late run.

White leads the Tar Heels with a season-high 14 points, followed by Broomfield with 13 and 10 rebounds.

DeGraffenreid and Italee Lucas had 10 points each. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt hauls in 13 rebounds and Krista Gross 10.

UNC outshoots the Cavaliers 38.3 percent to 31.6 and wins the rebound battle by a whopping 52-34.

They said it …

UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “I thought we played really hard tonight. We knew we were a little bit short on post players. Krista Gross and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt have been practicing in the post. And so I thought they did a good job. Rebounding really made a difference out there. It was a great team effort.”

Virginia coach Debbie Ryan: “Obviously the tale of the tape was we didn’t rebound well and turned the ball over too much,” Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. “It hurt a lot when Chelsea got those quick fouls. She knows she can’t do that. And one of the fouls was just a retaliation-type foul. She was late and should have let it go. It hurts to have to sit her.”

Broomfield: “I knew I’d have to step up tonight. I try to be consistent every game and crash the boards hard. Tierra P. and Krista did a great job rebounding. We knew our guards would have to get a lot of boards. I definitely tried not to get in foul trouble. I played a little more passive on the defensive end and I don’t want to do that.”

White: “I just wanted to be an extra help. I knew we needed scoring, and that’s kind of one of my assignments, keeping the game flow going smoothly when I get in. I was thinking we needed a little spark to give us more energy on the offensive end.”

What does it all mean?

That the Tar Heels can beat a middling ACC team with several key players out of the lineup. And that Virginia doesn’t seem to give up when a game looks hopeless.

Stars of the game
1. Broomfield.
2. White.
3. Kellum.

Play of the game
Lucas’ reverse layup from DeGraffenreid to make it 10-8 Virginia with 15:28 left in the first half.

Series record
UNC leads 45-32.

Streaks
UNC: Won 1.
UVa: Lost 1.

Up next
UNC vs. Virginia Tech, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Virginia at Clemson, Sunday, 2 p.m.

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