Shorthanded Tar Heels power past Coppin State
Playing without leading scorer Allisha Gray and starting point guard Latifah Coleman was no issue for No. 12 North Carolina Sunday as the Tar Heels ran past Coppin State 91-51 at Carmichael Arena.
Jessica Washington, making her first start, filled in nicely for Coleman with 14 points and five assists, and Diamond DeShields (16 points), Stephanie Mavunga (14 points) and Danielle Butts (12 points, nine rebounds) picked up the offensive slack.
Plus, UNC’s defense continued to be air-tight, as the overmatched Eagles turned the ball over 25 times and shot only 30.4 percent from the floor.
“The players that did have to substitute on the perimeter have practiced in that position,” UNC associate head coach Andrew Calder said. “We’re not going to do anything on the court that we haven’t practiced. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a post player or a guard on our team, we all go through post dills, we all go through perimeter drills. They can play inside-outside, and that’s the player we’re developing. They can play numerous positions, so they just filled in those spots for the players who were out.”
With Washington in the lineup, the Tar Heels started three freshmen. But the inexperience didn’t seem to matter against Coppin State, as the Heels (4-1) used a 30-5 run in the first half to take control of the game.
Freshmen Washington and DeShields provided a highlight-reel moment during the run, when DeShields tipped a pass and saved the ball from going out of bounds by tipping it to Washington at midcourt. As Washington took off on a fastbreak, DeShields didn’t stop either, taking a quick pass from Washington to score a layup.
DeShields is known for her offense, but she picked up five steals Sunday and was active on both ends of the floor.
“Honestly, I’ve never been much a defensive player,” DeShields said with a chuckle. “In high school, I’m the scorer. But here lately, I haven’t been hitting shots, so I’ve been trying to find a way to create offense in other ways. I’m starting to learn that when I can get in the passing lane, I’m much more athletic and I’m able to get steals and do more things in transition that way.”
UNC had 14 steals that turned into 28 points, and its transition game could prove troublesome for future opponents.
“They’re talented players with high basketball IQs,” Calder said. “But one of the better things is communication is getting better and better. The better you’re communication is, the quicker your team is. We’re already pretty athletic, and then you add that to it, that’s giving us a lot of success defensively.”
The Heels were far from perfect Sunday, with 20 turnovers and 42.2 percent shooting, but Calder liked the way the offense performed.
“We had a little more turnovers than I wanted, and we got a little bit sloppy with the ball at times, which we can’t do,” Calder said. “At times, the spacing and ball movement was beautiful. Sometimes we finished the shot, sometimes we didn’t, but we got a lot of good looks. I’m very impressed.”
NOTES — Calder declined to say why Gray and Coleman sat out the game, but a team spokesman said undisclosed “lingering injuries” kept them in street clothes. “Megan (Buckland) is out right now,” Calder said of the reserve sophomore . “Hopefully, Latifah and Allisha Gray will be back for Thursday against Arkansas State. Not sure.” … The Heels head to Cancun, Mexico for three games in the Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya over the Thanksgiving weekend. … UNC got contributions from all 10 players in uniform, as all 10 scored at least four points and grabbed at least two rebounds.
|No. 12 NORTH CAROLINA 91, COPPIN ST. 51|
Percentages: FG .304, FT .536.
3-Point Goals: 2-14, .143 (Craig 1-2, Swails 1-4, Griffin 0-2, Henderson 0-3, Coleman 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Lane).
Turnovers: 25 (Griffin 6, Coleman 5, Swails 4, Craig 3, Carter 2, Tayong 2, Henderson, Harris, Samuels).
Steals: 5 (Craig 2, Tayong 2, Henderson).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .422, FT .737.
3-Point Goals: 9-22, .409 (Washington 4-6, Rountree 3-8, Butts 1-1, DeShields 1-5, Johnson 0-1, Bryant 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Bryant 2, Mavunga 2, Fuller).
Turnovers: 20 (DeShields 4, McDaniel 4, Butts 3, Washington 3, Fuller 2, Johnson 2, Mavunga, Bryant).
Steals: 14 (DeShields 5, Washington 3, Butts 2, Mavunga, Rountree, Johnson, Bryant).
Technical Fouls: None.