UNC beat Alabama State, 84-54, for its first win of the season. The Tar Heels (1-0) used their superior athleticism to play stifling defense — forcing the Hornets (0-1) into 23 turnovers — while also crashing the offensive boards to get easy layups on an uncharacteristically poor shooting night.
UNC didn’t have a chance to do its usual shootaround before the game due to the early 4 p.m. tipoff. Coach Sylvia Hatchell said that might have contributed to the team’s first-half shooting woes — the Tar Heels shot 33.3 percent from the field, 17.6 percent behind the arc and an abysmal 53.8 percent from the free-throw line.
“We usually shoot on game day and get up quite a few shots, and I think that really makes quite a difference,” Hatchell said. “But it’s hard to complain when you get 84 points.”
Instead, UNC relied on its defense to help build a lead, forcing 13 turnovers in the first half and holding the two-time defending SWAC Tournament champions to just seven points in the second quarter en route to a scrappy 36-22 halftime lead.