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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tar Heels brave the snow, demolish struggling Pitt

Posted by on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Allisha Gray gestures to a teammate while Xylina McDaniel (at rear) does the same.
  • Courtesy UNC Athletic Communications/Jeffrey A. Camarati
  • Allisha Gray gestures to a teammate while Xylina McDaniel (at rear) does the same.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL Yes, it is possible to play college basketball in Chapel Hill this week.

UNC’s 17th-ranked women’s team (18-6, 6-4 ACC), fresh off its shocking upset at No. 3 Duke on Monday night, will take on new ACC member Pittsburgh in only the schools’ second meeting ever.

Pitt is undergoing some growing pains, currently 10-14 and 2-8 in its first season under Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Suzie McConnell-Serio. But the Panthers’ plane landed at RDU at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday and they’re ready to go.

Tonight is UNC’s “Play4Kay” breast-cancer awareness night, and despite the snow there are about as many fans in the building as for most games when the Tar Heels’ don’t play a marquee opponent. A lot of them are in pink.

Andrew Calder continues to run the team on the sidelines as UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell undergoes treatment for leukemia.

Tonight the Tar Heels say their goodbyes early, rolling to an 86-50 victory.

It’s all UNC almost from the opening tip. Stephanie Mavunga’s three-point play at 19:20 breaks a 2-2 tie, and it’s 19-4 after a Diamond DeShields jumper at 13:11.

UNC leads 42-25 at halftime behind 11 points from Allisha Gray. Asia Logan has 11 at the break for the Panthers.

The Tar Heels shoot 46.2 percent for the first half to Pitt’s 27.6 and lead the rebound battle 26-18.

Gray leads all scorers with 21 points, followed by DeShields with 19 and N’Dea Bryant with 10. Xylina McDaniel adds eight points and seven rebounds.

Logan has 14 to lead Pitt while Loliya Briggs chips in 10.

The Tar Heels shoot 48.6 percent to Pitt’s 27.9, win the rebound battle 48-40 and commit 13 turnovers to the
Panthers’ 19.

They said it …
Calder: “I thought defensively we could have done a couple things a little better. But I was impressed overall defensively, and we continued to find open players on offense. We’re getting better and better and want to continue to improve. … I think we have a championship mentality. We were just trying to build off that Duke game to the next game and we’re trying to build off this one to the next game.”

McConnell-Serio: “We didn’t hit shots, and that’s a big thing. We need to be able to knock down shots. We don’t have a great inside post presence. We need ball movement and player movement, and we became stagnant. We started the game out 1-for-10 and were as cold as the storm here in North Carolina.”

DeShields: “The last 24 hours have been relaxing. I’ve just been enjoying my bed and the Playstation and NetFlix. Classes were cancelled today and tomorrow. … We’ve already had a chemistry, but the game is slowing down for me, and (experience) is helping us help each other. It’s growth and patience.”

Gray: “My shot’s falling pretty well. I’m feeling it. I’m just in the right place at the right time. And I’ve learned to watch the shot before I get back on defense.”

What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels brought the same steady level of play they showed at Duke. And that Pitt continues to struggle to get anything going against the top half of the ACC.

Stars of the game
1. Gray.
2. DeShields.
3. McDaniel.

Play of the game
Mavunga’s three-point play 40 seconds into the contest to give UNC the lead for good at 5-2.

Streaks
UNC: Won 2.
Pitt: Lost 4.

All-time series

Tied 1-1.

Up next
Pitt vs. Clemson, Sunday, 2 p.m.
UNC at N.C. State, Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

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