CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL Things seem to be returning to normal after UNC’s high-profile loss to defending NCAA champion Connecticut on Monday night.
Tonight the No. 10 Tar Heels (16-2, 2-1 ACC) will return to ACC play against Big Four rival Wake Forest (10-9, 1-2), and the home team will be a solid favorite.
UNC has won seven straight in the series and leads 56-12, and the Deacons’ last win in Chapel Hill was 20 seasons ago.
Wake has some Triangle flavor on the roster in sophomores Lakevia Boykin of Southeast Raleigh and Asia Williams of Durham Hillside.
UNC gets an early lead and never lets it go, holding on for a 71-56 win over the Deacons.
The Tar Heels take control from the outset, scoring the first eight points ending in a pair of Italee Lucas free throws at 17:48.
UNC’s biggest lead of the half is 20, at 36-16 on a Jessica Breland jumper with 3:40 left in the period.
And the Tar Heels lead 36-22 at the break behind 16 points from Lucas.
UNC shoots 40.6 percent in the first half to 27.0 for Wake and leads the rebound battle 25-21 at the break.
The Tar Heels stretch the lead to 58-35 on a Waltiea Rolle bucket with 9:01 left in the game before the Deacons make a late run, slicing it to 14 on a Brooke Thomas layup with 2:33 remaining.
Lucas leads the Tar Heels with 20 points while Laura Broomfield — filling in a lot of minutes for Breland who played only 10 because of a minor left-knee injury — added a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds. Chay Shegog finished with 10 points.
Chelsea Douglas leads the Deacons with 16 points while Thomas finishes with 10.
- Photo courtesy UNC athletics
- UNC forward Laura Broomfield
Secily Ray has 11 rebounds to go with her five points.
UNC shoots 36.9 percent to 27.6 for the Deacons, who win the rebound battle 53-51 on the strength of 28 offensive boards. The Tar Heels commit 15 turnovers to the Deacons’ 17.
They said it …
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “It was nice to get back on the winning track. We wanted to come out aggressive on offense and defense, so I thought we started out pretty strong. I thought we’d shoot better. I wasn’t pleased with our shooting percentage but we got a lot of good shots, especially around the basket. We’ve got to finish those. … The facts that Italee had a good shooting night and Laura had a ton of rebounds were really good. … (Wake) got way too many offensive rebounds, and we’ll be running for that tomorrow.”
Wake coach Mike Petersen: “I told our team I thought our competitiveness was good. I thought our fight was good. I thought our groove was pretty good and we stayed together pretty good. We just didn’t make enough basketball plays. You can’t go on the road against the (No. 10) team and go 11-for-24 at the free-throw line and expect to have a chance.”
Broomfield: “It’s good having depth, but you have to bring your ‘A game’ every day. You never know when it’s going to be your turn to kind of step your game up. We have to bring intensity every game regardless of the situation. Mostly we just need to learn from our mistakes in the game to help us prepare for Maryland. It’s mostly a confidence thing. We have a lot of work to do.”
Lucas: “This is ACC play now. We learned a lot from the UConn game and we have to move forward with it. We still have like 21 more games left and ACC just started, to we definitely have to focus on that. … Laura’s an amazing player, especially when her confidence is there. No one can stop Laura but herself. She’s great on the boards — we can call her Windex.”
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels are back in the win column in conference play after the UConn loss, and that the Deacons showed plenty of fight in a near-impossible situation on the road.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Lucas’ 3-pointer to make it 20-9 with 9:36 left in the first half.
UNC leads 57-12.
- Photo courtesy UNC athletics
- UNC guard Italee Lucas
UNC: Won 1.
Wake: Lost 2.
Clemson at Wake, Sunday, 2 p.m.
UNC at Maryland, Sunday, 5 p.m.