CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)Alyssa Ustby scored 16 points and No. 8 North Carolina rebounded from its only loss of the season and beat UNC Wilmington 64-42 on Wednesday night.
Kennedy Todd-Williams scored 12 points and Deja Kelly added 10 for the Tar Heels (7-1), who dropped a 24-point decision at undefeated Indiana last week and played their first home game in three weeks.
”That game allowed us to see what areas we need to work on,” Ustby said of responding to a setback.
The Tar Heels felt good about playing in a familiar arena.
”There are a lot of people who are eager about watching this team play and they’ve earned that,” North Carolina coach Courtney Banghart said.
Ustby had 10 rebounds and shot 8 for 10 from the field for North Carolina, which went 5 for 16 (31%) from long distance and 24 for 60 (40%) overall.
”We were a little bit out of rhythm, understandably, probably because it’s exam week,” Banghart said. ”I thought defensively we weren’t as good as we usually are. So we just kind of slogged through the game. It’s a great time for this to happen because we’ve got to keep growing.”
North Carolina’s 17-0 scoring edge in transition points was a big factor, along with producing 20 points off 21 UNCW turnovers.
Lexi Jackson’s 11 points and 11 rebounds led UNCW (2-6), and Jayde Gamble added 10 points. The Seahawks are 0-39 all-time against ranked opponents.
”We’ve had a rash of injuries,” UNCW coach Tina Martin said. ”We’ve had to kind of pivot and put people in different positions. We’re going to keep getting better. It’s just a learning curve right now.”
UNCW, which has just two victories against Division I teams in the past calendar year, couldn’t take full advantage of a 37-33 rebounding edge. Britany Range played 39 minutes in just her second game as the Seahawks’ point guard.
The Tar Heels made three 3s and four 2s in the first quarter. North Carolina had its first double-digit lead at 24-14 with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter on the way to a 35-22 halftime lead.
Banghart wore a T-shirt recognizing North Carolina’s field hockey championship from this fall just hours after the announcement that longtime coach Karen Shelton is retiring.
”It’s also a day to honor Karen and all that she has done,” Banghart said. ”True to Karen, she’d rather we honor her team, and that was the plan all along.”
Ideally, Banghart said she would have changed to women’s soccer championship shirt at halftime, but the Tar Heels lost Monday night’s title game 3-2 in overtime to UCLA.
UNCW: The Seahawks remain a work in progress, but they had good stretches of defense that could be something to build on. For a team that was coming off season-low 25.4% shooting in a loss at Virginia, connecting on 36.7% of its shots from the field was encouraging despite 2-for-11 shooting on 3-pointers.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels didn’t put together many head-turning stretches, but they were steady most of the way. Some of their shooting woes were covered up by pulling down 14 offensive rebounds. This was just their third win by a dozen or more points this season.
North Carolina’s three previous games came against ranked opponents. . UNCW fell to 3-40 all-time versus teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. . After a hefty travel itinerary, North Carolina won’t have to leave the state again until January.
UNCW: At Coastal Carolina on Dec. 18.
North Carolina: Host Wofford on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25