Carolinas Challenge

North Florida women beat exhausted Coastal Carolina in opening game of Carolinas Challenge

mmckinnon@thesunnews.comDecember 19, 2012 

— The Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team, having played four games in the past six days, attributed fatigue and poor shooting to its 69-58 loss to the North Florida Ospreys in the Carolinas Challenge on Wednesday.

The Chanticleers were only 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) from the field in the first half and finished 20-for-56 (35.7 percent).

Meanwhile, the Ospreys were knocking down 3-point shots like it was their job. North Florida finished 13-for-22 from behind the arc, led by Destinee Smith’s game-high six 3-pointers.

“Our shooting definitely hurt us early in each half,” Chanticleers coach Alan LeForce said. “We were tired and that’s where it starts showing first is in their shooting. They just couldn’t knock down their shots efficiently. On the other hand, North Florida was knocking down shots left and right. I think they finished phenomenal shooting numbers.

“We’ve played a lot recently and I think the girls just were tired,” LeForce added. “That started showing. They were missing their shots and playing sloppy for a while and that’s not going to result in a win.”

Smith was the game’s leading scorer with 20 points (6-9 FG, 6-7 3Pt, 2-2 FT).

“She’s a very good player. It seemed like she just went off and we couldn’t contain her very well,” LeForce said.

Shatia Cole (15), Alexx Puckett (14), and Angelica Henry (13) were Coastal’s only players to finish in double-figure scoring

“Alexx, Shatia and Angelica did well tonight,” LeForce said. “I think they controlled the tempo despite their turnovers.”

The Chanticleers finished with 13 turnovers, opposed to the Osprey’s 15.

“The turnovers didn’t help at all,” LeForce said. “We didn’t have as many turnovers as they did, but it is still unacceptable to turn the ball over that much. But, we’ll keep working on it and this game certainly helped.”

North Florida started the first half on a 16-3 run with 12:40 left to play in the half, and ended up outscoring CCU 35-26 in the first half. In the second half it was a similar story as the Opsreys went on a 13-4 run, which Coastal closed in on, but couldn’t claim a lead in the second half.

“We’ve been letting teams get on runs early in the past few games and it wasn’t any different tonight,” LeForce said. “I’m not sure if it’s a lack of focus or energy but we can’t let that keep happening. Even though we lost the game, this really helps us going into our conference games. I look at it as a learning experience.”

North Florida (4-7) – Chandler Merkerson 0-4 0-1 0, Jadhken Kerr 5-9 4-8 14, Raneisha Lamar 0-3 0-0 2, Fabiola Josil 2-7 1-2 5, Destinee Smith 6-9 6-7 20, Ki Conner 4-4 1-1 9, Bre Crum 0-2 0-1 0, Molly Grund 0-2 0-0 1, Z. Chambers-Hunter 0-0 0-0 0, Jada Bennett 2-3 0-0 4, Shayla Wilson 2-3 0-1 7, Jasmine Hicks 01 0-0 0, Octavia Langston 2-6 1-1 7. Totals 23-53 13-22 69.

Coastal Carolina (6-5) – Alexx Puckett 6-11 1-1 14, Katelyn Connor 1-3 0-0 2, AJ Jordan 3-8 1-1 7, Shatia Cole 5-12 1-5 15, Angelica Henry 3-10 2-4 13, Jena Hamrick 0-0 0-0 0, Savannah Pippin 0-3 0-0 0, Kayla Cook 2-9 1-4 7.

Halftime–North Florida 35-26. 3-Point Goals–North Florida 13-22 (Merkerson 0-1, Kerr 4-8, Josil 1-2, Smith 6-7, Conner 1-1, Crum 0-1, Wilson 0-1, Langston 1-1), CCU 6-15 (Puckett 1-1, Jordan 1-1, Cole 1-5, Henry 2-4, Cook 1-4) Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–North Florida 38 (Lamar 7), CCU 31 (Connor, Jordan 7). Assists–North Florida 14 (Josil 4), CCU 11 (Henry 3) Total Fouls–North Florida 12, CCU 9. Att.–1,120.

Lady Tar Heels rally for win

Despite trailing at halftime and playing with a depleted roster, No. 17 North Carolina pulled away in the second half thanks to a surge by Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who scored 17 of her game-high 24 points in the frame, as the Lady Tar Heels defeated East Carolina 76-67.

“Well they were a very good team and very experienced,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “We weren’t getting all the stuff they wanted in the first half. I thought we did a better job covering their 3-point shooters, though. We had a lot of kids step up and do a lot of good things. [ECU] wasn’t 8-2 for no reason. They do a really good job. It was a great game for us but we weren’t at full strength but the rest of the kids stepped up.”

The Lady Tar Heels trailed 32-31 at half, but turned up the intensity in the second half.

“We’re a little bit banged up but we’re still top-20 in the country,” Hatchell said. “I thought my team competed hard in the second half and did a very good job tonight.

“This was a great crowd. The people are great.”

Ruffin-Pratt led the way for North Carolina, but turned the ball over seven times. Krista Gross chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Heels.

“We played with heart and intensity,” Ruffin-Pratt said. “They put a little pressure on us in the first half, but in the second half we were making our right reads and cuts.

“This was a good win. We have to keep our momentum going.”

East Carolina (8-3) – Chapple 0-0 0-0 0, W. Edwards 4-11 4-4 15, B. Edwards 3-6 6-6 12, White 2-6 0-0 5, Stewart 4-12 0-0 10, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Mial 3-7 0-0 7, Marshall 0-4 0-0 0, Hodges 0-0 0-0 0, Green 0-1 0-0 0, Ebron 4-9 1-2 9, Jackson 3-4 3-4 9. Totals 23-60 14-16 67.

North Carolina (11-1) – Gross 3-7 4-4 10, Buckland 3-6 0-0 8, Butts 1-1 2-2 4, Rountree 2-3 2-2 7, Ruffin-Pratt 7-16 9-15 24, Coleman 3-5 0-0 6, Bannister 1-3 1-1 3, Bryant 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 3-6 2-3 8, Rolle 3-6 0-0 6. Totals 26-53 20-27 76.

Halftime—East Carolina 32-31. 3-Point Goals—East Carolina 7-22 (W. Edwards 3-8, Stewart 2-6, Mial 1-2, White 1-2, Ebron 0-1, Marshall 0-3), North Carolina 4-9 (Buckland 2-4, Rountree 1-1, Ruffin-Pratt 1-2, Johnson 0-1, Bannister 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—East Carolina 31 (B. Edwards 6), North Carolina 39 (Gross 10). Assists—East Carolina 13 (Stewart 5), North Carolina 12 (Gross, Rountree, Ruffin-Pratt 3). Total Fouls—East Carolina 23, North Carolina 13. A—NA.

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