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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC blows out Wingate on the strength of 8 blocks

The block party started early in the first half, and it continued late into the second.

In the North Carolina women’s basketball team’s 90-52 exhibition win against Wingate on Thursday at Carmichael Arena, UNC blocked eight shots and controlled the paint with an assertive defensive presence that limited the Bulldogs to 18 points in the second half.

“With our size, we should’ve dominated in there,” coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “As big as we are and everything, we should’ve dominated.”

Leading UNC’s inside dominance were senior center Waltiea Rolle and freshman forward Xylina McDaniel, who combined for seven of the blocks and never allowed the Bulldogs to put up an unchallenged shot in the key.

The inside command was also clear in the statistics. UNC had 48 points in the paint, and Wingate had just 10. Almost a third of the Bulldogs’ made shots were three-pointers, and they shot just 28.1 percent from the field.

UNC’s blocks came in a variety of forms. There were standard, nonchalant rejections, blocks in front of an opponent, blocks behind an opponent, blocks that didn’t change possession. Rolle even blocked the ball off a Bulldog player’s head.

“I just wait for the ball to get out of her hand, pretty much,” Rolle said of her uncomplicated blocking technique, mimicking a blocking motion with her hands.

But none was more powerful than McDaniel’s soaring rejection of a Wingate player with about five minutes left in the first half.

Near the baseline closest to the Tar Heels’ bench, McDaniel rose, extended her palm and swatted the shot out of bounds. The ball landed next to UNC’s bench, and the play drew loud cheers from her teammates and the crowd.

“She’s so aggressive,” guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt said of McDaniel. “She pressures the ball, she’s on guard, she plays tough in the post. She came over me and blocked a shot today — I didn’t even see her behind me.”

And even if they didn’t block every shot, the Tar Heels altered so many that it produced almost the same result — empty possessions.

Wingate players had to more than once change their shot mid-air or arc the ball high into the air to get it over UNC defenders, and they seemed hesitant driving into the paint.

Rolle said forcing them to adjust their shots is just as important as blocking them.

Despite its defensive control of the paint, UNC only out-rebounded Wingate by two — 51 to 49.

Hatchell said that needed to change.

“One time they were up about 10 rebounds on us,” Hatchell said. “They battled us hard inside on the boards.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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