The No. 14 North Carolina women’s basketball team ran into early foul trouble against UCLA Sunday night, but with freshmen Allisha Gray and Jessica Washington coming off the bench, the Tar Heels were able to cruise past the Bruins, 78-68.
Gray led all players with 30 points and also picked up a double-double for the second game in a row with 10 rebounds.
“Man, Allisha played a great game,” Washington said. “She always goes out there and just goes hard no matter what.
“We are always looking for her, you know to give her an open shot because she’s gonna knock it down.”
That’s exactly what she did against the Bruins, shooting 8-16 from the field and an impressive 6-11 from three-point land. To top off the shooting performance, Gray went to the free throw line eight times and made each one.
“Here’s the thing about Allisha Gray,” coach Andrew Calder said. “She knows when to shoot it and when to drive it. And that’s just instincts that she has for the game which are very, very good.”
But what Calder was most impressed with, was her rebounding.
“The first thing I love about Allisha is that she had 10 rebounds,” he said. “She had four offensive rebounds and six defensive rebounds. She’s done a great job going to the glass and giving us second opportunity chances.”
With UCLA out-rebounding the Tar Heels 52-43, it was a huge boost for Gray to grab 10. Washington said that the deficit could be traced to a poor job of boxing out.
“I think we missed a couple block outs and they just got to the ball before we did,” she said. “We gotta block out better.”
But, overcoming the rebound differential was made much easier with the team making 10 out of 25 (40 percent) three-point shots.
“We can shoot the ball, we got players,” Washington said. “We’ve got multiple players who can shoot the three. So that wasn’t a lucky thing, I mean they were playing us in a zone and we would get to the open gaps and knock down a shot.”
Washington played a large role in getting herself and her teammates in position to score against UCLA’s 2-3 zone defense. She finished with 16 points and a team-leading five assists.
“Just attacking the middle, attacking the lane, it’s going to create passes for other people,” Washington said. “But then I’m also in the lane looking for a shot, and also against the zone a part of my role is to move into the gaps and find those open gaps for my three.”
Washington shot 5-10 from the field and 2-4 from behind the arc. Sophomore Xylina McDaniel was the only other Tar Heel to score in the double digits, dropping 13 and also picking up six rebounds.
Good ball movement and excellent performances off of the bench would be the difference in the game though.
“I thought the players off the bench did a very good job for us tonight,” Calder said. “Very proud of how they performed with the foul trouble our starters had tonight.
“Proud of how our team battled tonight.”
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