by Mike Potter
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC comes back from its Thanksgiving break to complete its five-game homestand, and the Tar Heels are going to play shorthanded.
That leaves eight players to take on Kennesaw State today, so both freshmen Megan Buckland and Brittany Rountree will get the start.
KSU has visited Carmichael each of the last three seasons with an 0-3 record, and the closest approach was 34 points.
The Owls take advantage of the Tar Heels’ lack of depth as all five UNC starters play at least 31 minutes, and fall only 76-62 this time.
This time the Owls are able to put up a pretty good fight — especially in the first half.
UNC leads 37-30 at the break, but only after 12 lead changes and six ties and trailing 14-8 at the 9:56 mark on a Sametria Gideon layup.
She’la White has 12 points and Chay Shegog 10 at the break for UNC, which shoots 53.8 percent over the period to the visitors’ 35.3.
Ashley Holliday has 11 at the break for Kennesaw.
But the Tar Heels take control with a 17-4 run to start the second half.
UNC’s largest lead is 66-40 on a Krista Gross bucket with 9:38 to go.
Kennesaw cuts it to 72-62 on a Holliday 3-pointer at 1:57, but Gross and Buckland each hit two free throws in the final minute.
Shegog finishes with 21 points and 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season in a career-high 38 minutes. She’la White hits 20 to tie her career high, while Gross chips in 13 points and eight rebounds in her career high 33 minutes.
Holliday hits 26 including eight 3-pointers for KSU, while Gideon adds 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tar Heels shoot 50 percent to 37.1 for the Owls, and win the rebound battle by a scant 37-36. UNC commits 17 turnovers to 22 for KSU.
They said it …
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “Give Kennesaw State a lot of credit. They were ready for us and they’ve got some good shooters. We started off real sluggish and were a little out of sync. (Shegog and White) picked up the slack for us. We just need to get it to Chay more frequently. And we ran a few things for She’la to get some shots and she shot the ball well. The freshmen will keep getting better and better.”
KSU coach Colby Tilley: “We were prepared for their press, but when we saw the eight we knew they were going to have to change up somewhat and they did. I’m just real proud of how hard our kids worked against a team like North Carolina. But we don’t have moral victories. If we do we find ourselves being satisfied.”
Shegog: “It felt just like any other game. I tried not to focus much on how many minutes I was playing. Krista is a strong rebounder, so I knew she would fill Laura’s spot.”
White: “(Chay and I) know we have to play at a high level this season. The only difference is playing more minutes. I just told my teammates we have to get on the same page defensively, and we have to take care of the ball better.”
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels are good enough to hold off a decent low-major team when they don’t have much depth available.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Gross’ layup from Shegog on White’s entry pass to make it 48-33.
UNC at Penn State (ACC/Big Ten Challenge), Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Kennesaw State at Belmont, Thursday, 6 p.m.