Overcoming a lackluster first half, the No. 14 men’s basketball team (4-0, 0-0 ACC) defeated Northern Iowa (1-3, 0-0 Missouri Valley), 91-69, in the opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas on Wednesday afternoon.
Early in the matchup between UNC and Northern Iowa, the Panthers surged ahead and commanded a 10-2 lead. Northern Iowa displayed its finesse with an unconventional sequence, first capitalizing on a rare and-1 shot, followed by a 3-point shot on the subsequent possession. This scoring spree saw the Panthers net six points in succession, leaving the Tar Heels trailing behind.
As the first half approached its midpoint, the momentum swung in favor of the Tar Heels. With just over six minutes remaining, junior forward Harrison Ingram unleashed a 3-point jumper off an assist from senior guard RJ Davis. This allowed the Tar Heels to gain their first lead since their initial 2-0 advantage. Not content with just offensive prowess, UNC's defense forced a shot clock violation, shutting down Northern Iowa's options.
North Carolina struggled to contain Northern Iowa in the first half, as the Panthers shot 54.3 percent from the field. However, UNC’s defensive intensity increased significantly, leading the Panthers to their season-high in turnovers with 17. Despite their consistent offensive success in the first half, the Panthers did not notch a field goal until just over six minutes into the second half.
After its early second-half surge to claim the lead, UNC exhibited dominance that persisted throughout the remainder of the game. The Tar Heels’ authoritative control and strategic play maintained their lead, outscoring the Panthers 56-28 in the second half.
Graduate guard Cormac Ryan and Ingram ignited the surge in sinking consecutive 3-pointers which led to an immediate 8-0 scoring run. Ryan then continued to showcase his sharpshooting ability by nailing two more 3-pointers in succession, bringing the Tar Heels another 8-0 spree.
Ingram finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, with first-year guard Elliot Cadeau and Ryan adding 15 points apiece. Graduate center Armando Bacot and graduate forward Jae’Lyn Withers added 10 and 11 points, respectively.
The Tar Heels are set to compete against the winner of the Texas Tech and Villanova matchup for the tournament semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m.