The pattern was established early and often.
Charleston Southern struggled to move the ball, North Carolina forced a turnover, drove down the court and finished with an easy layup. The Tar Heels were simply too physical and too athletic for the Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, dominating the game in fast-break points, points in the paint and offensive efficiency en route to a 100-49 victory.
Time and again, the Tar Heels sprinted down the court for an uncontested layup, finishing with 25 steals and outscored the Buccaneers 22-2 in fast-break points. But the Tar Heels didn’t win with just their quickness. Their physical defense resulted in 11 blocks to Charleston Southern’s one, and North Carolina won the battle in the paint 54-14.
Rather than revel in the victory, associate head coach Andrew Calder — after some brief praise — went immediately into the areas that he felt the Tar Heels needed to improve on.
“I think communication and rebounding has got to get a little bit better, and we got to get a little better in our offense with ball movement,” he said. “Sometimes the ball gets stagnated a little bit, and we got to do a little better with that.”
While Calder was unhappy with the ball movement, it’s difficult to spread the offense around much better than the Tar Heels did Saturday. Every player who dressed for North Carolina got into the game, and every player scored at least two points, including five players who put up double digits.
Sophomore N’Dea Bryant scored a career-high 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with four steals and four rebounds.
Bryant, however, took very little credit for her performance, instead passing the praise onto her teammates.
“I feel like my teammates know my game and know where to get me the ball any time I’m on the court,” she said. “They know my best qualities, and they just give me the ball in the right places at the right time, honestly.
“It’s nothing different than we do any other game, it was just today they were finding me more, and I had more openings, so I just had better shots and more shots.”
One of the other stars of the game was freshman forward Stephanie Mavunga, who put in a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, in addition to three blocks and two steals.
She attributed her strong effort to 10 days off between games. North Carolina’s previous game was a 75-62 win against Nebraska, which was ranked 15th overall at that point.
“I was looking forward to a game,” she said with a laugh. “Practices are tough, but games are always better.”
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