7:00 PM ET, December 3, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a game of lengthy runs, No. 2 North Carolina saved the best spurt for last.Jessica Breland scored 29 points and the Tar Heels held No. 18 Ohio State scoreless for more than nine minutes of the second half to take a 72-63 victory Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge."In the second half we showed them a zone, then matched up, and then we went back to a zone around the 8-minute timeout," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "That messed them up some."Breland, averaging 13.5 points a game, had 21 in the opening half as the Tar Heels (9-0) opened a 41-37 lead. Cetera DeGraffenreid added 14 points and six assists and Rashanda McCants had 10 points for North Carolina, which improved to 21-9 against the Big Ten and evened its record against the Buckeyes at 3-3.Breland knew she was going to have a big game after her first long-distance shot of the night."It was that first 3-pointer," she said. "After I hit that, I felt I could hit any shot on the court."Jantel Lavender had 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Buckeyes (6-2), who led 52-49 with 11:56 left before missing their next 12 shots from the field with six turnovers over a span of 9 minutes, 20 seconds. Star Allen added 12 points, Ashlee Trebilcock had 10 points and Samantha Prahalis had 13 assists.The Tar Heels sealed the outcome with a 17-0 second-half run."When they went into that zone, we went into a few-minute lapse," Prahalis said. "It only takes 2 minutes and the game can be flipped."Ahead 41-37 at the half, the Tar Heels pulled away at the outset of the second half. McCants hit a jumper before Breland scored on consecutive possessions, once on a baseline drive and then on a nifty pass from McCants to make it 47-37. They hit their first three shots of the half, while Ohio State missed its first four and had three turnovers over the opening three minutes.Just as suddenly, the game swung the other way.Prahalis had two breathtaking assists. On the first, she dribbled behind her back at midcourt to avoid a defender and then fired a no-look pass to Lavender for a layup. She then lobbed a court-length pass to Allen for a breakaway layup.The Tar Heels went almost six minutes without a point as the Buckeyes ran off 13 points in a row -- eight by Lavender."That's the way we play," Hatchell said. "At times we were really ragged."The teams traded baskets until the Tar Heels regained the upper hand as Ohio State suddenly went cold. The Buckeyes led 52-49 on Lavender's basket with 11:56 left but then didn't score until Trebilcock hit two free throws with 2:36 left."They went zone and we didn't execute the way we needed to when that happens. It's that simple," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "Ball movement, ball reversals -- it was just a mental block."Lavender said the Buckeyes needed to take the blame for the lengthy drought."I don't think it was the zone, it was us," she said. "We weren't executing our offense very good and in transition that gave them baskets."McCants' free throw and a reverse layup by Chay Shegog tied it at 52 with 10:51 remaining. Breland then hit a follow, Iman McFarland scored off an assist by Shegog, McFarland hit a layup and Breland popped in a 10-footer to make it 60-52 with 5:23 left. McCants then scored inside and after the Tar Heels hit two free throws the lead was 64-52 with under 3 1/2 minutes left.Ohio State was 71-3 at home since the start of the 2004-05 season. The game was the first meeting between the teams since North Carolina won 75-67 on Dec. 18, 1980.Hatchell wouldn't be a bit surprised if the teams meet again -- soon."We could see them again in the NCAA tournament," she said.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press