Tar Heels rebound vs. Radford
North Carolina has struggled with turnovers this season — and that was with senior point guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt in the lineup.
The Preseason WNIT MVP missed Wednesday night’s game against Radford with concussion-like symptoms, and the results were predictable.
The No. 21 Tar Heels turned the ball over 31 times but used their advantage inside to defeat Radford 64-44 at Carmichael Arena.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “Way, way too many turnovers, and a lot of those turnovers were just absolutely ridiculous.”
Redshirt sophomore Latifah Coleman had 10 turnovers in place of Ruffin-Pratt, who was injured in Sunday’s 45-point loss to Tennessee, and the Tar Heels (8-1) committed four miscues in the first 90 seconds.
But unlike the Lady Vols, who took advantage of UNC’s 30 turnovers, Radford (4-3) couldn’t convert on offense. The Highlanders had just 10 points on 3-of-29 shooting at halftime.
And when the Tar Heels were able to get the ball inside, UNC’s forwards used their height advantage — the three frontcourt starters scored 49 points and helped give the Tar Heels a 52-27 rebounding edge.
Senior center Waltiea Rolle had a career-high 24 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, becoming the fourth player in UNC history and the 13th player in ACC history with 200 blocks.
UNC freshman power forward Xylina McDaniel added 16 points and eight rebounds and senior small forward Krista Gross added a career-high 17 rebounds.
The Tar Heels had been outrebouded 54-40 against Tennessee.
“Monday after the game, we did do a lot of running (as punishment),” McDaniel said. “But our practice focused on rebounding and being physical inside the paint, because that was a weak point in our game.”
UNC led by 27 early in the second half but had a scoring drought of its own, going nine minutes without a field goal. Meanwhile, Radford scored 12 straight points, including eight in a span of 39 seconds as the Tar Heels had trouble getting the ball across halfcourt.
That run cut UNC’s lead to 48-37 with six minutes left, but the Tar Heels scored 11 points in a row over the next four minutes to seal the win.
UNC won’t practice again until Sunday because of exams, and the next game isn’t until Wednesday against N.C. Central. Hatchell was hopeful but unsure if Ruffin-Pratt would be cleared by then.
“Having a concussion nowadays is very complicated as far as what all they have to pass and do to be able to get back out there and the steps that they go through,” Hatchell said. “There’s so many different levels, it’s just unbelievable. So I really have no idea. I’m hoping she’s back next week, but I really don’t know.”
No. 21 UNC 64, Radford 44
Percentages: FG .258, FT .846. 3-Point Goals: 1-12, .083 (Brockett 1-1, Hamilton 0-1, Avery 0-2, Buckhannon 0-8). Team Rebounds: 8. Blocked Shots: 1 (Gaymon). Turnovers: 19 (Hamilton 5, Erwin-Spencer 4, Mason 3, Buckhannon 2, Gordon 2, Gaymon, Avery). Steals: 17 (Hamilton 7, Buckhannon 3, Foy 2, Walker, Avery, Mason, Tabb, Erwin-Spencer).
Percentages: FG .420, FT .655. 3-Point Goals: 3-12, .250 (Gross 1-1, Bannister 1-1, Buckland 1-5, Butts 0-1, Coleman 0-1, Rountree 0-3). Team Rebounds: 8. Blocked Shots: 8 (Rolle 5, McDaniel 2, Bryant). Turnovers: 31 (Coleman 10, Gross 5, McDaniel 4, Rountree 3, Buckland 2, Rolle 2, Butts 2, Bryant 2, Adams). Steals: 10 (Bryant 3, Gross 2, McDaniel 2, Rountree, Coleman, Buckland).