by Mike Potter
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC returns to the floor for the first time in six days, ranked No. 25 and flying high after winning the Preseason WNIT.
The teams will be meeting for the first time.
The Tar Heels are playing a back-to-back this weekend, as UNC Asheville will come calling on Sunday. And today’s game is at noon, so as not to conflict with the home football game against Maryland at 3 p.m.
The Tar Heels get off to a slow start but finish fast, rolling to the 85-55 victory.
The Explorers come out on fire, going up 12-5 and then 19-9 before making it 23-10 on a Jess Koci layup with 12:41 left in the half.
The Tar Heels rally to trail just 32-31 at halftime following Xylina McDaniel’s follow shot with 13 seconds left in the period.
McDaniel then scores the first four points of the second half to get UNC ignited, and the Tar Heels are in control the rest of the way.
Waltiea Rolle leads the Tar Heels with 15 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Hillary Fuller off the bench with 13 points, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt with 12 and McDaniel 11.
Shanel Harrison paces LaSalle with 18 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Brittany Wilson with 14.
UNC shoots 40.5 percent to the Explorers’ 30.4, wins the rebound battle 60-43 and commits 21 turnovers to the visitors’ 27.
Because of the football game to follow, there is no post-game press conference.
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels are able to weather an early onslaught from a decent team and still win in a blowout.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
McDaniel’s first basket of the second half for the lead.
UNC: Won 5.
LaSalle: Lost 1.
UNC leads 1-0.
UNC vs. UNC Asheville, Sunday, 2 p.m.
LaSalle at Georgetown, Wednesday, 8 p.m.