by Mike Potter
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC appears to get an easier assignment tonight than in its last game.
It’s the second of a three-game homestand for Sylvia Hatchell’s club, which will take on Nevada-Las Vegas on Sunday.
UNC starts slow but finishes fast, rolling to an 87-47 win over the Bucs.
The Tar Heels come out cold, and Hatchell subs 5-for-5 two minutes into the game before coming back with the starters as ETSU leads 5-4 at the first TV timeout.
But the inspired starters respond with an 8-0 run ending on Waltiea Rolle’s follow shot at 12:53.
The Tar Heels’ roll continues, as Cetera DeGraffenreid’s 3-pointer from the right corner makes it 28-11 at 7:51.
ETSU keeps fighting, but UNC leads 39-26 at the break despite 16 points from Natalie Pickwell. Krista Gross comes off the bench to lead the Tar Heels with seven points at the half.
The big run comes in the middle of the second half. With the Tar Heels up 47-34 with 15:18 to go, Jessica Breland hits a 3-pointer to begin a 26-0 run to put it away.
Italee Lucas scored 13 points to lead four UNC players in double figures. Breland adds 11 points and nine rebounds and Ruffin-Pratt 11 points, while sophomore guard Gross adds a career-high 10.
Pickwell has a career-high 21 including five 3-pointers and Destiny Mitchell adds 10 points for the Bucs.
UNC shoots 46.1 percent to the Bucs’ 27.9, and wins the rebound battle 53-39. The Tar Heels commit 21 turnovers to 31 for ETSU.
They said it …
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “We started off sloppy. We got a lot of shots but we just didn’t have our intensity to start the game with. But in the second half we came out and played a lot better. Different players stepped up. Krista had a good game with seven rebounds and 10 points and only one turnover. We’re just keeping working and trying to get better.”
ETSU coach Karen Kemp: “I thought we came out with a lot more intensity than we have the last couple of games, so I was really pleased with that. I thought our effort was good. If someone had said at halftime (UNC) would have only eight offensive rebounds I’d have said ‘Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding me.’ I was proud of that, and we did some good things. But they’re so athletic and so long and just a good basketball team.”
Lucas: “Our depth definitely made a difference. Coach was able to sub a lot of players in and out when players were getting tired or not doing what they were supposed to do. We’re way deeper than (ETSU) and it definitely showed.”
Gross: “Our depth definitely made a difference. Coach was able to sub a lot of players in and out when players were getting tired or not doing what they were supposed to do. We’re way deeper than (ETSU) and it definitely showed.”
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels’ depth is good enough to beat a less talented team even on a slow night.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Laura Broomfield’s layup off Shannon Smith’s behind-the-back pass that made it 83-42.
UNC leads 12-0.
UNC: Won 9.
ETSU: Lost 5.
UNC vs. Nevada-Las Vegas, Sunday, 2 p.m.
ETSU vs. Campbell, Dec. 20, 7 p.m.