CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Dec. 31, 2009) - North Carolina's size and athleticism kicked in to start the second half and it proved to be too much for the Lady Bucs to overcome, as ETSU fell to the seventh ranked Tar Heels 104-65 on Thursday afternoon inside Carmichael Auditorium.
The Tar Heels out-rebounded ETSU 72-46 and tallied 22 fast-break points en route to the 39-point New Year's Eve victory, marking the Lady Bucs' largest margin of defeat on the season.
The Lady Bucs were led offensively by senior TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) - who scored 16 of her game high 22 points in the second half. Wiles also pulled down seven rebounds, dished out a career high seven assists and swatted three shots. Joining Wiles in double figures was senior Siarre Evans' (Griffin, Ga.) eighth consecutive double-double performance. Evans scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
For the first time this year ETSU allowed its opponent to reach the 100-point plateau, as the Lady Bucs saw their record dip to 4-6 in the final non-conference game of the regular season. Meanwhile, North Carolina improved to 11-1 and remained perfect in the 11 all-time meetings.
"Our goal coming into the game was to control the ball and keep North Carolina to limited possessions. I thought we did a good job of that in the first half, but after the first five minutes of the second they (UNC) did a good job taking us out of our game plan," commented head coach Karen Kemp. "We knew going in that we didn't match up well with their size. It makes things difficult anytime you give a team second and third chances."
North Carolina opened up on a 7-0 run to start the game, but back-to-back lay-ins by Wiles and Evans cut the deficit to three, 7-4, 1 minute, 58 seconds into the contest. The Lady Bucs continued to play the ACC perennial power tough and finally grabbed their first lead of the afternoon when Evans nailed a deep three from the corner - putting ETSU up 17-16 at the 12:52 mark.
From there, the Lady Bucs would go cold over the next three minutes and UNC regained a 23-17 advantage; however, ETSU responded and Evans' second trey from the corner put the Blue and Gold back ahead, 25-23, with nine minutes left before half. Then, with the Lady Bucs only trailing 31-28 at the 5:25 mark, Evans was whistled for her second foul and had to sit for the remainder of the half. UNC capitalized on Evans' absence as the Tar Heels rattled off 12 unanswered points to take 15-point lead, 43-28, with 2 minutes, 36 seconds showing on the clock. ETSU had a chance to lower the margin to single digits before the break - but Wiles couldn't connect on a running floater with four seconds left - and UNC's Italee Lucas drove down to nail a shot at the buzzer to give the Tar Heels a 48-35 advantage after the first 20 minutes of action.
ETSU shot 29.8 percent (14-47) in the first half, but the three-point shot kept the Lady Bucs within striking distance. The Lady Bucs drained five threes, compared to UNC's 1-of-7 showing. The Tar Heels shot 36.7 percent (18-49) in the first stanza, and held a plus-10 advantage in rebounding (39-29). Seventeen of UNC's 39 boards came on the offensive end - resulting in 15 second-chance points - while the Lady Bucs had 12 offensive boards but only posted two second-chance points. Free throw shooting was also one-sided, with UNC hitting 11-of-16, compared to ETSU going 2-of-3.
The Tar Heels opened first 3 minutes, 38 seconds of the second half on a 14-4 run and took the wind out of the Lady Buccaneer sails, as UNC built a 62-39 lead after Cierra Robertson-Warren's lay-in at the 16:22 mark.
Things continued to go south in a hurry for ETSU.
Over the next five minutes UNC extended its lead to 34, 83-49, when Trinity Bursey connected on a three-pointer. Eventually North Carolina built its largest advantage at 41, 104-63, with 28 seconds left in the game.
The lone bright spot for the Lady Bucs in the second half was Wiles' 16-point effort.
For the game, ETSU shot 31 percent (27-87) and went 8-of-25 (32 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels shot 51.2 percent in the second half and finished 40-of-92 for the contest (43.5 percent). UNC went to the charity stripe 26 more times than the Lady Bucs, as the Tar Heels were 20-of-31 to ETSU's 3-of-5 effort.
North Carolina had five players finish in double figures, with Lucas leading the way at 17 points. Laura Broomfield ended the game with eight points and 15 rebounds.
The Lady Bucs now focus their attention to conference play for the remaining 18 regular season games, as ETSU continues its season-long five-game road swing on Monday afternoon at USC Upstate. Tip is set for 4:30 p.m. inside the G.B. Hodge Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.