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The Daily Tar Heel

Strong second half lifts UNC to exhibition win

Tiara Ruffin-Pratt (44) plays against Wingate on Thursday, November 1. UNC won 90-52.
Tiara Ruffin-Pratt (44) plays against Wingate on Thursday, November 1. UNC won 90-52.

After hitting back-to-back three pointers and two free throws near the end of the first half, Division II Wingate trailed North Carolina by just six points at halftime — a far cry from the Tar Heels’ commanding 45-point halftime lead on Sunday against Carson-Newman.

But UNC responded with an 11-0 run to begin the second half on its way to a 90-52 victory Thursday night in its final exhibition before the regular season.

Though UNC turned the game into a blowout in the second half, coach Sylvia Hatchell said she was impressed with the Bulldogs’ strong fundamentals.

“Wingate had a great gameplan. First half they gave us all we could handle,” Hatchell said. “We were a little bit sluggish in the first half. It might have been a little too much Halloween on Franklin Street.”

Wingate took full advantage at the free throw line, shooting 88 percent.

The Tar Heels had plenty of free throw opportunities too, scoring 20 points from the line, which helped them outscore Wingate 50 to 18 in the second half.

Seniors Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Waltiea Rolle led UNC in scoring with 17 points apiece. Ruffin-Pratt, 5-foot-10, also added seven assists and brings height to the Tar Heel point. She is taking the reins from 5-foot-5 She’la White, who graduated last season.

Ruffin-Pratt credited the team’s summer games in Europe with helping make her transition a smooth one.

“I got some extra games under my belt,” Ruffin-Pratt said. “Just having the ball in my hands and being able to find people is what I’ve been able to do before, but now that they’ve put me in that position, it makes it a lot easier.”

Rolle battled double-teams from Wingate all night, but she still managed to burn the Bulldogs on both ends of the court, adding five blocks and eight rebounds to her 17 points.

The 6-foot-6 center said she is prepared to handle the attention she will receive when ACC opponents try to play physical against her.

Rolle and the Tar Heel starters’ average height was more than three inches greater than the Bulldogs’, but Wingate outrebounded UNC 34-22 in the first half.

The Tar Heels eventually pulled ahead to finish the game with a slim 51-49 advantage on the glass.
Hatchell said at times all five of Wingate’s players were boxing out and keeping UNC away from the rim.

“We weren’t getting offensive rebounds, and we were missing those shots, basically those threes,” Hatchell said. “We were a one-shot offense.”

As Hatchell’s team readies for the start of the regular season, it will do so with a new offensive strategy ­— a drive-and-dish approach that gives its backcourt plenty of options.

“It fits our personnel,” Hatchell said. “When you drive, you make things happen. They’ve got to move with you, and movement’s the enemy of the defense. When you drive like that you’re going to create opportunities.”

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