UNC women adjust

Size, tempo finish Bucs

Staff WriterJanuary 1, 2010 

— This season has presented its challenges for a young North Carolina women's basketball team that has at times struggled with bad decisions, poor shooting and ineffective rebounding.

With each new challenge, the No. 7 Tar Heels have stumbled at first but found ways to collect themselves in the end, showing coach Sylvia Hatchell that her team - which features nine freshmen or sophomores - is deftly handling its steep learning curve.

UNC started Thursday's game against East Tennessee State by shooting 3-for-14 from the field before regrouping late in the first half and running away with a 104-65 victory at Carmichael Auditorium.

Learning from their quick-shooting mistakes, the Heels (11-1) had five players finish with double-figure scoring, including junior guard Italee Lucas, who scored a team-high 17 points to lift her team over the Buccaneers (4-6), who pulled even at 25-25 midway through the first half.

"We just settled down and started pushing the ball a little more and started finishing," said UNC sophomore guard She'la White, who added 15 points and seven assists.

One of White's assists came at the end of the first half when she fed Lucas on a fast break. Lucas beat the buzzer to give the Heels a 48-35 halftime lead. The Heels expanded that advantage at the start of the second half with a 14-4 run and closed out the Buccaneers, who were led by senior ToRonda Wiles' 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

"We didn't change a whole lot at halftime," Hatchell said. "I just told them to take their time and make those shots."

The Heels, featuring their eighth different starting lineup of the season, made an effort to attack the basket in transition and find their post players in the lane. Facing opponents no taller than 6 feet 2, they had little trouble locating UNC's 6-6 freshman center Waltiea Rolle, who posted her first double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Rolle, who has no problem keeping up with the team's fast tempo, teamed with 6-1 sophomore forward Laura Broomfield to dominate the paint. Broomfield collected a career-high 15 rebounds and helped the Heels outrebound the Buccaneers 72-46.

Fast breaks will always remain a central part of UNC's offense under Hatchell, though this season with sophomore center Chay Shegog and the addition of Rolle and 6-4 freshman Cierra Roberston-Warren they have focused more on inside play - a clear break from last season when they were primarily an outside-inside team.

Shegog did not play Thursday after she suffered a concussion against Kennesaw State. Shegog, who has started 10 games this season and averages 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds, was hit in the head in the first half of Tuesday's game.

No. 7 NORTH CAROLINA 104, ETSU 65

East Tennesse State (4-6): Washington 2-7 0-0 5, Evans 5-13 1-1 13, Austin 0-3 0-0 0, Wiles 10-27 0-0 22, Davis 0-8 1-2 1, Benedict 2-4 0-0 4, Robinson 5-9 0-0 13, Gordon 3-9 0-0 6, Good 0-1 0-0 0, Morrison 0-3 1-2 1, Pickwell 0-2 0-0 0, Crider 0-0 0-0 0, Dixon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-87 3-5 65.

North Carolina (11-1): Broomfield 4-12 0-2 8, Rolle 4-9 4-6 12, Lucas 7-15 2-2 17, White 5-8 3-3 15, DeGraffenreid 4-9 7-9 15, Ruffin-Pratt 3-8 0-0 6, Robertson-Warren 4-6 1-1 9, M.Wood 5-10 2-2 12, Bursey 1-4 0-0 3, Gross 3-5 1-4 7, Williams 0-4 0-2 0, Powell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 40-92 20-31 104.

Halftime--UNC 48-35. 3-point goals--ETSU 8-25 (Robinson 3-4, Evans 2-4, Wiles 2-6, Washington 1-1, Dixon 0-1, Good 0-1, Pickwell 0-2, Davis 0-6), UNC 4-16 (White 2-4, Bursey 1-2, Lucas 1-2, Ruffin-Pratt 0-2, M.Wood 0-2, Powell 0-2, DeGraffenreid 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--ETSU 46 (Evans 10), UNC 72 (Broomfield 15). Assists--ETSU 14 (Wiles 7), UNC 23 (White 7). Total Fouls--ETSU 22, UNC 13. Att.--2,677.

edward.robinson@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4781

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