The Tar Heels hit their stride in the second half. UNC extended its lead into double-digits in the third period on a made jumper by senior guard N'Dea Bryant, and the Tar Heels continued to coast ahead of the Knights.
But in the onset of the fourth period, an unexpected obstacle threatened UNC’s ability to continue its dominance both in this game and the rest of the tournament.
A Fairleigh Dickinson player accidentally thrust their hand into the face of sophomore guard Jamie Cherry, breaking her nose and forcing her to sit out for the rest of the game.
Although Coach Sylvia Hatchell later said Cherry would likely play in the remaining tournament games while wearing a protective mask, the sophomore was forced to support her team from the sidelines for the rest of Friday's game.
But in Cherry's absence, North Carolina’s intensity did not wane.
In fact, UNC went on to extend its lead over the Knights to 20 just minutes later when first-year guard Stephanie Watts nailed UNC's lone 3-pointer.
By holding Fairleigh Dickinson to 13 points in the fourth period, the Tar Heels went on to swiftly defeat the Knights, handing UNC its first win of the tournament.
“We had a lot of really good shots, and we missed them. But it’s a win against a good team. Well-coached … they battled us really hard … but we’re glad to win and we’re looking forward to playing tomorrow.” — Hatchell on her team's performance.
Both Bryant and redshirt junior forward Hillary Summers set career-highs in points, scoring 15 and 20 points, respectively. Summers also hauled in a career-high 13 rebounds.
Three numbers that matter
35: More than half of UNC’s points came from Summers and Bryant, who scored 35 total points.
34: North Carolina scored 34 of its points in the paint, while the Knights managed 22.
1: The Tar Heels attempted 12 3-pointers on Friday, but made only one of them.
The Tar Heels will take on Iona at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Carmichael Arena in the second day of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge.