DeGraffenreid's 16 points, 10 assists lead UNC past unbeaten St. John's

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- St. John's went to a pressing defense late in the game. That's just what North Carolina point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid wanted.

DeGraffenreid scored 16 points and tied a career high with 10 assists to help the fourth-ranked Tar Heels defeat the Red Storm 83-73 on Sunday.

"They started pressing, so I knew that we had an advantage," DeGraffenreid said. "I just tried to get past the defense."

DeGraffenreid succeeded, scoring six points during a decisive 12-2 run down the stretch for the Tar Heels (6-1). She accounted for 14 of North Carolina's last 16 points, scoring eight herself and handing out three assists.

"We press a lot, and we couldn't contain DeGraffenreid at all," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "That's a tough matchup for anyone. She's so quick."

Italee Lucas scored 17 points to lead the Tar Heels, who bounced back from a 72-66 loss at No. 22 Michigan State on Thursday. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added 13 points and 10 rebounds for North Carolina, and teammate Chay Shegog contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Da'Shena Stevens scored 25 points to lead St. John's (7-1), which had won its first seven games by an average margin of 22 points. Sky Lindsay added 11 points for the Red Storm.

St. John's, which trailed 45-33 at halftime, scored the first 11 points of the second half. The Red Storm tied the game at 65 on two free throws by Nadirah McKenith with 7:37 remaining, but DeGraffenreid sparked a 12-2 run that put the Tar Heels ahead 77-67 with 4:26 left.

After a basket by Ruffin-Pratt, DeGraffenreid assisted on a layup by Waltiea Rolle. DeGraffenreid then scored North Carolina's next six points, banking in two driving layups to give the Tar Heels their cushion.

Both teams missed plenty of opportunities before North Carolina's decisive run. The Tar Heels, who missed their first seven free throws, finished 14 of 26 at the line. St. John's made just 19 of 35 free throws.

"It was a ragged game," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

The game was far from free-flowing -- but not just because the teams combined for 49 fouls and 41 turnovers. Each half featured multiple delays, some for several minutes, as the game clock and shot clock malfunctioned.

After the final delay, which occurred with 17:01 remaining in the second half, officials turned off the scoreboard and the clocks above each basket. New clocks resting on the floor showed the teams how much time remained, and the public address announcer updated the score after each basket until arena employees figured out how to post the score on four video boards.

The last -- and longest -- stoppage occurred just after the Red Storm's spurt to start the second half. North Carolina ended the surge with two baskets before play was stopped.

"We had made a little bit of a run there," Barnes Arico said. "We had the momentum going and then, boom. And then it was a long period of time. So I think it was tough. But I'm sure it was difficult for them as well."