by Mike Potter
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC returns home for the first time since Coach Sylvia Hatchell got her 900th victory, and she is honored in an appropriate pregame ceremony.
Jen Hoover makes her first trip to Chapel Hill as the Deacons’ head coach, trying to break a nine-game slide in the series.
Wake has a couple of Triangle-area seniors in the starting lineup in Lakevia Boykin out of Southeast Raleigh and Asia Williams from Durham Hillside.
UNC leads all the way in this one, rolling to a 76-56 win.
The Tar Heels score the first six points of the game in 1:18, that stretch ending on a Xylina McDaniel jumper from just inside the arc on the right elbow.
And they make it 43-24 at halftime behind 11 points from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, outshooting the Deacons 43.8 percent to 30.8 over the period.
The biggest lead is 62-31 on a Ruffin-Pratt bucket with 10:22 to play.
McDaniel leads the Tar Heels with 15 points and nine rebounds. Ruffin-Pratt, who doesn’t start and plays only nine minutes with a bruised ankle, finishes with 13 while Danielle Butts scores 10 on 5-for-6 shooting.
Chelsea Douglas scores 13 points to lead the Deacons, while Williams chips in 12 points and eight rebounds.
UNC shoots 43.3 percent from the floor to Wake’s 36.4, wins the rebound battle 39-33 and commits 18 turnovers to the visitors’ 23.
After the game, the fans are treated to about a 10-minute video saluting the 900th victory.
They said it:
Hatchell: “Every win in the ACC is a good win. Wake Forest is a good team. We had to do things by committee tonight because (Ruffin-Pratt) was limited with her time. But Latifah (Coleman) did a good job and Brittany (Rountree) and Megan (Buckland) against the press. At times it was ragged, but we did what we had to do. Danielle did a nice job, and when (McDaniel) gets going she can be really tough.”
Hoover: “Obviously we’re disappointed in the outcome. Give a lot of credit to Carolina and to Coach Hatchell and what she’s accomplished in her career. You can tell they’re very focused on getting back to the NCAA Tournament. We’re disappointed in our first-half outcome; I thought the game started off a little sloppy. But we just have to regroup and understand that we need to finish at the free-throw line when we get those opportunities.”
McDaniel: “I love playing defense because it really does get your offense flowing. But Coach Hatchell has been working a lot with me with my footwork. I still need to put in more hard work to get better.”
Butts: “The chemistry this year is a lot better than last year. Everybody has the same goal and the same mindset to play hard and play tough and improve from last year. That’s pushing us harder.”
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels are capable of leading wire-to-wire against a lower-division ACC team. And that the Deacons seem to be pretty good about playing hard when they’re down.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Rolle’s follow shot producing a three-point play to make it 25-16 with 9:11 left in the half.
UNC: Won 3.
Wake: Lost 1.
UNC leads 59-12.
UNC at Florida State, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Wake Forest at Duke, Sunday, 3 p.m.