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The Daily Tar Heel

Seven seconds was all it took for Italee Lucas to square up and hit her first 3-pointer Sunday — and it didn't take much longer after that for No. 10 North Carolina to put the game away against N.C. Central.

The Eagles were down by 14 before they got their first point and were buried by three-pointers in the opening minutes thanks to a blisteringly hot shooting start.

Lucas who set a career high with 27 points in the Tar Heels' last game" hit her first five shots from long range and finished with 19 points.

""My teammates were penetrating and kicking it" they were pretty much getting me open Lucas said.

It felt good" so the shots were just falling.""

After coach Sylvia Hatchell got fired up on the sidelines when her team gave up three consecutive offensive rebounds to the Eagles in the fifth minute" the sophomore guard took off on a hot streak.

Her second trey came from a wide-open look at the top of the circle and made the score 24-3. From there the Tar Heels' margin shot up in 3-point bursts while Lucas took over the game with her stroke.

On the next three possessions she hit a 3-pointer. One with a defender at her hip on the right side and again from the right corner for the next two.

A double-team outside the arc forced her to pass on the next trip down the court but it didn't stop the flurry of long-range shots. Heather Claytor hit from the left corner to make the margin 33-5. She missed her next shot but a rebound from Laura Broomfield came back to Claytor who drove and dished to Lucas for another wide-open triple.

The three-minute run catapulted the score to 36-7 and cemented the Tar Heels in control of the game.

The Eagles made it therapeutically easy to get to the paint — even for UNC's reserves — and allowed half of the roster to score at least seven points or more. UNC shot better than 80 percent at the start and finished with a 54.9 percent rate for the game" which Hatchell credited to her team's attacking attitude.

""We were really trying to attack the rim" be a little more aggressive" Hatchell said.

The five 3-pointers from Lucas were the highlight of the team's performance behind the arc. UNC shot 10-for-19 from 3-point range, and many of the open looks started with pressure from point guards Cetera DeGraffenreid and She'la White.

Lucas might have reached her career high had she played more than 17 minutes in the game. No Tar Heel was in the game more than 20, and starting forward Jessica Breland had the lowest court time on the team with nine minutes.

The Tar Heels' top players spent much of the second half cheering on their teammates.

It was fun out there" Lucas said. We were sharing the ball" making baskets. We just had a good time.""



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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