CHAPEL HILL — Under normal circumstances, North Carolina leading N.C. Central 49-21 in a women’s basketball game would be a typical halftime score for the No. 19 Tar Heels.
Wednesday’s nonconference game wasn’t normal. And 49-21 was the final score as North Carolina (9-1) won its second straight game on its road to recovery after a 102-57 beat-down Dec. 2 at No. 16 Tennessee.
Rehabilitation was on Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell’s mind at Wednesday’s 11 a.m. tipoff – an unusual time set to accommodate the exam schedule and a plan to bus in hundreds of screaming school children to watch the game.
Just eight Tar Heels played in the blowout. That looked like a deep team compared to the seven who dressed for N.C. Central (0-11).
“We didn’t have everybody available to play we’d like, but when you walk out there it’s still just five-on-five,” first-year N.C. Central coach Vanessa Taylor said. “We were just excited about the opportunity to play.”
UNC held N.C. Central to 7-for-43 shooting (16 percent) from the field and outrebounded the Eagles 44-39. Krista Gross, the ACC’s top rebounder, had 12 rebounds.
“We played good defense,” Hatchell said. “But we were so thin, I was just glad that we outrebounded them.”
Tisha Dixon had team highs of eight points and 12 rebounds to lead N.C. Central, which is 0-6 all-time against North Carolina.
“It’s hard playing every day and never getting the result you want,” Dixon said. “We just had to play hard, try to have fun and forget it was Carolina.”
Coming off the bench in her first game since suffering a concussion in the loss at Tennessee, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt led North Carolina’s scoring with 14 points. Brittany Rountree added 11 points and Danielle Butts 10.
Butts and Ruffin-Pratt were also slowed by bruises suffered in a fender bender with a car that ran a red light on campus last week.
Enough Tar Heels were missing or banged up that Hatchell brought trainer Carrie Rubertino Shearer to a postgame conference to explain the various problems.
North Carolina was missing two of its top three scorers: freshman Xylina McDaniel (12.8 points per game) was out with a hamstring strained in practice Tuesday, and senior Waltiea Rolle (13.9 ppg) has a sprained ankle.
Reserve Hillary Fuller was out with pain in her Achilles tendon. Freshman Hillary Summers already was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Two other Tar Heels were held out for other reasons. Erika Johnson, a transfer from California, won’t be eligible until the first semester ends this weekend. Antoinette Bannister was serving a one-game suspension for missing her conditioning requirements.