Fast start lifts Tar Heels

Jan. 14, 2013 @ 08:31 AM

North Carolina’s conference games had all followed a familiar pattern – fall behind in the first half and then pull out a close win late.

After winning their first four ACC games by a combined 17 points, the Tar Heels took a different approach to winning Sunday against Georgia Tech.

No. 11 UNC scored 22 straight points early in the first half, led by 24 at halftime and cruised to a 79-58 win at Carmichael Arena.

Redshirt freshman Megan Buckland made all five of her 3-point attempts, all in the first half, and scored a career-high 19 points to lead five players in double-figures for the Tar Heels (17-1, 5-0 ACC).

“I made the first one and then I just kind of got in my flow, I guess, and just didn’t miss,” said Buckland, who tore her ACL last season and was averaging 5.8 points per game.

Though Georgia Tech (8-8, 1-4) had a 43-27 edge in rebounding, UNC shot 54 percent from the field, blocked 12 shots and had 14 steals, just one off its nation-leading 14.9 steals a game.

Point guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 11 points and eight assists while center Waltiea Rolle had six blocks and four steals for UNC, which is tied with Duke atop the ACC. Preseason all-ACC pick Tyaunna Marshall was held to 15 points on 7-of-19 shooting for the Yellow Jackets.

The Tar Heels broke a five-game losing streak to Georgia Tech, including two losses last year by a combined three points.

“This is a good win for us because we’ve had some real battles with Georgia Tech,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “They’re always so athletic and physical.”

The Yellow Jackets also ended UNC’s NCAA Tournament hopes last season with a one-point win in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. To make matter worse for UNC, Chapel Hill had been pre-selected as a host site for the first two rounds of the NCAAs, so the Tar Heels watched as Georgia Tech advanced to its first-ever Sweet 16 in Carmichael Arena.

“They played here in the NCAA Tournament and we had to sit and watch,” Hatchell said. “That didn’t hurt our feelings or nothing, it was just we had two great games with them last year and we came out in the short end of the stick. It was almost like, I don’t want to say payback, but we had something to prove here.”

Krista Gross had all 10 of her points during UNC’s 22-0 run, while Ruffin-Pratt had four assists and the Tar Heels made seven steals.

“I thought they were having fun,” Hatchell said. “Moving the ball around, being aggressive.”

Georgia Tech’s Brittany Jackson (20 points) made a 3-pointer to open the scoring 2:30 into the game, but it was the only points the Yellow Jackets would get until there was 8:41 left in the first half. During that stretch, Georgia Tech shot 1 of 14 and committed 13 turnovers as UNC ran out to a 22-3 lead.

The Tar Heels had either trailed or been tied at halftime in their first four ACC wins, but they extended the lead to 41-17 by the break on Sunday. They led by as many as 27 midway through the second half, and when Georgia Tech cut the lead to 15 with 3:36 left, Rountree hit a 3-pointer to seal the win.

UNC, which entered the game shooting 28.6 percent from behind the arc, made 9 of 13 (69.2 percent) on Sunday.

The only real suspense came with six minutes remaining, when Aaliyah Whiteside tied up UNC guard Latifah Coleman from behind. Both players fell down, and Whiteside landed on top of Coleman.

Ruffin-Pratt and Jackson both got technical fouls as players rushed to the spot where Coleman was down on the court.

Hatchell said that Coleman, who re-entered the game when Buckland fouled out with 1:41 remaining, has a tender spot on her rib and will be evaluated.











S Taylor;3;0-2;0-0;0-1;0;0;0




N Taylor;10;1-3;0-0;2-3;1;2;2


Percentages: FG .319, FT .714.

3-Point Goals: 4-16, .250 (Jackson 4-9, S. Taylor 0-1, Maye 0-1, Marshall 0-2, Wallace 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 11.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Rogers, Bivins).

Turnovers: 23 (Jackson 5, Maye 5, Marshall 3, Whiteside 3, Wallace 3, S. Taylor 2, Bivins, Rogers).

Steals: 12 (Maye 3, Marshall 2, Jackson 2, Whiteside 2, N. Taylor, Rogers, Wallace).

Technical Fouls: Jackson.














Percentages: FG .540, FT .762.

3-Point Goals: 9-13, .692 (Buckland 5-5, Rountree 3-5, Gross 1-1, Ruffin-Pratt 0-2).

Team Rebounds: 8.

Blocked Shots: 12 (Rolle 6, Ruffin-Pratt 2, McDaniel 2, Bryant, Butts).

Turnovers: 20 (Gross 4, Ruffin-Pratt 4, Rountree 3, Coleman 2, McDaniel 2, Butts 2, Bryant, Rolle, Buckland).

Steals: 14 (Rolle 4, Gross 3, Coleman 3, Bryant, Butts, Rountree, Ruffin-Pratt).

Technical Fouls: Ruffin-Pratt.

Georgia Tech;17;41;—;58

North Carolina;41;38;—;79


Officials_Susan Blauch, Angelica Suffren, Bob Enterline.