UNC women withstand early shooting binge to top Nebraska 75-62

CorrespondentDecember 4, 2013 

— North Carolina absorbed a sharp-shooting barrage for the first five minutes against Nebraska Wednesday night.

And then the Tar Heels’ athleticism took over.

Xylina McDaniel tied her career high with 25 points, leading three players in double figures as the No.18 Tar Heels eased past the No.15 Cornhuskers 75-62 in the Women’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Carmichael Arena.

Allisha Gray added 14 points and Diamond DeShields came off the bench for 11. Freshman Stephanie Mavunga had eight points to go along with her 11 rebounds.

“We did a lot of good things tonight,” said UNC acting coach Andrew Calder, who is filling in for Sylvia Hatchell as she undergoes treatment for leukemia.

“We got down early (but) we didn’t panic. They took some open shots early but some tough shots also they made and that happens. But again, in the end we thought we could wear them down and we held them below 40 percent shooting.

“I think only Tennessee has shot 40 percent against us, and that was our goal to hold teams below 40 percent shooting each game. We had more assists than turnovers again today, and we’re proud of that because we’re sharing the basketball.”

Jordan Hooper led Nebraska with 18 points, followed by Rachel Theriot with 12, Tear’a Laudermill 11 and Hallie Sample 10.

“North Carolina does what North Carolina likes to do,” Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. “They got baskets in transition and they got them off offensive rebounds. They do a good job on the glass. In the first half we failed to do what we needed to do to have a chance, and that was take care of the ball and do a good job on defense. We were better in the second half.”

Calder said McDaniel talked with Hatchell on Tuesday, and that had a big effect on her performance.

“We talked about my progress and what I need to work on,” McDaniel said. “But the main focus was my temper, which I’m sure you guys have seen. In the previous games I’ve committed like four fouls a game (compared to one against Nebraska). She told me it’s good to keep your cool and get the refs on your side.”

UNC shot 48.5 percent to the Cornhuskers’ 39.3 and won the rebound battle 40-33. The Tar Heels turned the ball over 15 times to Nebraska’s 21.

“At first, my offensive game wasn’t going well so I was like I’ll just go to my other aspect of my game which is defense,” Gray said. “Then my defense started coming along, and that’s when I started adding fuel to the fire on offense. So my defense made my offense better.”

The Tar Heels led 40-30 at the break behind 17 points from McDaniel. Hooper had 12 for the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska led 16-7 on Hooper’s 3-pointer – her team’s fourth of the game – with 15 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half. But with more aggressive defense the Tar Heels went on a 29-9 run, making it 36-25 on Jessica Washington’s second straight layup at the 2:11 mark.

UNC’s biggest lead was 75-58 following McDaniel’s second straight bucket with 2:17 left.

The Triangle’s other ACC women’s teams play their Challenge games tonight. No. 2 Duke hosts No. 22 Purdue at 6:30 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium, while N.C. State visits Northwestern at 7.

UNC announced before the game that redshirt sophomore guard Megan Buckland will be out for the season following successful ACL surgery on her right knee. Buckland has had two ACL repairs on her left knee.

The Tar Heels don’t play again until a Dec. 14 home game against Charleston Southern.

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