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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tar Heels make their point - 90 of them - in revenge rout of Clemson

Posted by on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 2:43 PM

GREENSBORO COLISEUM It’s 11 a.m. and there are thousands of screaming children in the arena.

So it must be the Opening Game of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

And it’s definitely a big one for UNC.

UNC guard Brittany Rountree
The Tar Heels are 19-10 and were ranked for most of the season. And the No. 1 argument for anyone who thinks they shouldn’t be invited to the NCAA Tournament — undoubtedly even some involved with the selection committee — is that inexplicable 52-47 home-court loss to Clemson (6-21) back on Jan. 12.

Today Sylvia Hatchell’s club, which has the No. 5 seed, gets its chance for revenge against the No. 12 seed Tigers. Clemson has a pair of Triangle locals on the team in freshmen Chelsea Lindsay from Durham Hillside and Natiece Ford from Holly Springs.

Also of note is that Tiger coach Itoro Coleman is in her ninth month of pregnancy with her fourth child, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting her intensity in patrolling the sidelines.

Coleman aside, this one’s an annihilation. The Tar Heels get out early and never look back, rolling to a 90-51 decision that was the largest margin of victory in the history of the first round.

UNC makes 16 field goals in the first half, five of them from 3-point range, to Clemson’s eight and leads 44-25 at the break. The Tar Heels outrebound the Tigers 24-13 over the first 20 minutes and commit seven turnovers to 14 for Clemson.

Brittany Rountree hits 12 points in the first half on four 3-pointers, while Tierra Ruffin-Pratt adds 10 points and Laura Broomfield has nine points to go with her 12 rebounds.

The second half turns into a total rout.

Rountree goes 7-for-10 from 3-point range and finishes with 21 points. Ruffin-Pratt and Danielle Butts chip in 14 each while Broomfield has a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Nikki Dixon’s 14 points lead Clemson.

UNC shoots 48.5 percent for the game to the Tigers’ 39.2, wins the rebound battle by a whopping 47-28 and commits 19 turnovers to Clemson’s 25.

They said it …
Hatchell: “I thought we had a great team effort out there today. We shared the ball and played some good team ball. I knew this team was capable of doing this. … Brittany (Rountree) is a great shooter. (Tierra Ruffin-Pratt) she has a couple of really great games, and today, you know she scored well, but she did a lot of things — six assists to no turnovers, a blocked shot, a steal. She's doing all those things out there that make us a better team. I was pleased with the effort.”

Coleman: "This was very disappointing. Other than the loss, I think our fight was just the most disappointing today. We knew North Carolina was going to make a run, but we never really bounced back from it at all. (UNC) adjusted to the zone really well. Brittany Rountree — she got really hot. She got really hot on the outside shooting ‘3s’ and we kept losing her in our zone. My hat's off to North Carolina. They played extremely well today."

Ruffin-Pratt: “I think this might have been one of our best games this season. Coming off the Duke game (of Sunday), we’d played very well in the second half. And we knew we had to have a big tournament to show people how really good we are.”

Rountree: “When I hit ‘3s’ it brings momentum. I’m ready for the next shot.”

What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels should have nailed down their NCAA bid, while Clemson has plenty to work on for next season.

Stars of the game
1. Rountree.
2. Broomfield.
3. Ruffin-Pratt.

Play of the game
Rountree’s third 3-pointer to make it 28-16 with 7:40 left in the first half.

Streaks
UNC: Won 1
Clemson: Lost 8.

Series
UNC leads 51-27.

Up next
UNC vs. Georgia Tech, Friday, 11 a.m.
Clemson in 2012-13 season opener

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