CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC keeps banging on the door of the nation’s Top 10, but the No. 11 Tar Heels have to keep their winning streak going to get it done.
- Photo courtesy UNC athletics
- UNC guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt
On a snowy evening the Tar Heels (17-1, 5-0 ACC) will host old rival Virginia (11-5, 3-2), which is an up-and-coming ACC team in its second season under Duke alumna Joanne Boyle.
UNC, which is looking for coach Sylvia Hatchell’s 897th victory, will be favored to get its 17th win in its last 18 meetings in the series.
The Tar Heels lead from the opening minutes and Virginia never makes a good run until it’s too late in a 71-60 UNC win.
UNC takes the lead for good at 11-8 on Brittany Rountree’s 3-pointer from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt with 15:09 left in the first half.
The Tar Heels shoot 51.5 percent in the first half to the Cavaliers’ 32.0 and commit just five turnovers to Virginia’s 16 and lead 42-22 at the break.
UNC’s biggest lead is 27, at 58-31 on Danielle Butts’ layup from Ruffin-Pratt with 13:29 to go.
Xylina McDaniel leads the Tar Heels with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Ruffin-Pratt chips in 14 points and Waltiea Rolle 14.
Telia McCall and Kelsey Wolfe lead Virginia with 13 points each, while Simone Egwu has 10 rebounds with six points.
UNC shoots 41.9 percent to the Cavaliers’ 37.0. The Tar Heels commit 13 turnovers to Virginia’s 24. The Cavaliers win the rebound battle 45-39.
They said it:
Hatchell: “The first half, we played really well both on offense and defense. In the second half we played really well in the first 6-7 minutes, but took some bad shots and eased up and lost a little of our intensity. But I saw some really good things, when we had 18 assists and 14 steals with 13 turnovers. (Ruffin-Pratt) has a lot to do with that. Her numbers were really good. We’re working really hard, and we’re getting better. This is a really good group with tremendous chemistry.”
Boyle: “I was disappointed on how we came out, but a lot of credit goes to Carolina. They’re a good team and their record shows it, and we didn’t respond the way we needed to. They had balanced scoring with three people in double figures. They were going at Rolle early and then Tierra got her shots off. I just think we had a lot of mental breakdowns.”
Ruffin-Pratt: “We played a good first half at both ends. We just came out with a lot of intensity on defense and that just sparked our offense. I’m getting more and more comfortable playing the point. At the beginning of the season it was a task that I wasn’t really used to, and I got to a point where I didn’t want to do it anymore. But the coaches want the ball in my hands and if they trust me I’ll learn to trust myself. I try to stay focused on defense and everything else will follow.”
McDaniel: “I think I’m fitting in pretty well, but I have a lot of things to work on. There isn’t too much pressure on me right now. I feed off Waltiea and all of my teammates. Once I see them doing good things I say to myself ‘I’ve got to get in here and get some action.’”
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels are playing well enough to make quick work of a pretty good basketball team.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Megan Buckland’s 3-pointer from Rountree on a fast break to make it 30-19 with 6:29 left in the first half.
UNC: Won 11.
UVa: Lost 1.
UNC leads 48-32.
Virginia vs. Miami, Sunday, 2 p.m.
UNC at Maryland, Jan. 24, 8:30 p.m.