CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- It took a little while for North Carolina (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) to wake up after a long trip home from Mexico.
Not-so-fresh from wins over No. 16 Arizona State and Texas
Christian in a holiday tournament, the Tar Heels sleepwalked
through the first 15 minutes of their non-conference, 83-43 win
over North Carolina-Asheville on Tuesday night.
"It was a long traveling day on the way back. We were
exhausted," said Latoya Pringle, of the 12-hour trip home. "We
were a little out of synch at times tonight."
Down 20-15 midway through the first half, N.C.-Asheville trailed
just 30-23 after a Leslie Young lay-up with 3:26 left before
"We were sluggish ever since getting off the airplane, and that
affected us some" coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We were also
getting out-rebounded pretty good."
Hatchell lit into her players about N.C.-Asheville's 16-13
margin in first-half rebounds, and the Tar Heels responded with a
12-2 run that gave them a 42-25 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs never got closer than 48-30 in the second half as
North Carolina won pulling away.
"The first half, we were competitive," N.C.-Asheville coach
Betsy Blose said. "The second half, they jumped on us."
Pringle and Asheville native Rashanda McCants sparked the
first-half run with consecutive put-backs. Erlana Larkins added
consecutive baskets from the paint.
Larkins ended up with 13 points in 23 minutes of play, while
Ivory Latta got 11 points and nine assists in 28 minutes. They were
the only Tar Heels with more than 20 minutes of game time.
Every Tar Heel scored and got at least one rebound. Pringle came
off the North Carolina bench to pick up 13 points in just 13
minutes of game time.
"Games like this are good because we get to play a lot of
people and give them a lot of playing time," said Hatchell.
No starter for N.C.-Asheville (4-1) scored more than six points.
Wudi Alford led the Bulldog scoring with nine points off the bench.
"This game is a step for us," Blose said. "If we're fortunate
enough to win the Big South [Conference], this is exactly the sort
of team we'll have to face in the tournament. But we won't have to
face another team like this the rest of the regular season."
The Bulldogs committed 40 turnovers and hit just 32 percent
(15-for-46) from the field.
"Turnovers was a stat that killed us," Blose said. "They
trapped us so much, we quit attacking the basket."
North Carolina shot better than 45 percent for the third
"It should have been better than that," Hatchell insisted.
"We missed way too many easy lay-ups off those turnovers."
Hatchell was more pleased with North Carolina's final 40-33
margin in rebounds.
"We did much better rebounding in the second half," she said.
"That and our defensive pressure made a big different."