North Carolina Holds Off Clemson, 78-64, in #ACCWBB Tournament First-Round Action

March 3, 2011

GREENSBORO, NC – The sixth-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels snapped a four-game losing streak, defeating the 11th-seeded Clemson Tigers, 78-64, Thursday night in the opening round of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Second-team All-ACC honoree Italee Lucas led a balanced Tar Heel attack which featured four players with 11 or more points. Lucas scored 14 points, Cetera DeGraffenreid registered 11 points, eight assists and six steals, Chay Shegog tallied 11 points and eight rebounds and Jessica Breland added 11 points and six boards in the victory. North Carolina took advantage of a powerful inside game, scoring 40 points in the paint.

“It was a focus to go inside,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “You get the ball inside, you get good shots and you’re also going to get on the foul line. I thought we did a good job going inside.”

Clemson senior Kirstyn Wright notched her first career double-double, leading all players with 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Kelia Shelton added 14 points for the Tigers, who dropped their seventh consecutive game. With the loss, Clemson fell to 10-20.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team, in particular this individual (Wright) right here,” said first-year Clemson coach Itoro Coleman. “From the time we came in, they were like a sponge. They wanted to do right, they wanted to work hard, and they did. It didn’t show up in the wins and losses, but we got better.”

North Carolina (23-7) will face third-seeded Florida State (23-6) Friday at 8:00 p.m. in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

Game 4 Notes:

North Carolina improved to 52-24 all-time in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels have the most tournament wins, and Maryland is second with 46.

North Carolina leads the series against Clemson 50-26, and the Tar Heels’ advantage in the ACC Tournament is 10-4. UNC has won 17 consecutive meetings with the Tigers, who last beat the Tar Heels in 2001 (in the tournament quarterfinals).

The Tar Heels won the teams’ lone meeting of the 2011 regular season, 60-47 in Clemson, S.C., on Feb. 10.

North Carolina, the No. 6 seed, advances to the quarterfinals, where it will take on No. 3 seed Florida State at 8 p.m. North Carolina won the teams’ lone meeting of the regular season, 84-75 in Tallahassee, Fla.

Clemson is 29-32 in the ACC Tournament and 3-5 in the first round. The Tigers have played in the finals six times, but their last championship game appearance was in 1999, an 87-72 victory over North Carolina .

With two free throws early in the game, North Carolina guard Cetera DeGraffenreid moved past two players into sixth in ACC history in free-throw attempts. DeGraffenreid, who now has 691 trips to the foul line, moved ahead of Tracy Reid (UNC) and Monique Currie (Duke), who each attempted 688 free throws.

DeGraffenreid leads the ACC and is fifth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio. With eight assists and one turnover on Thursday night, she now has 152 assists and 60 turnovers (2.53). DeGraffenreid also had six steals.

Kirstyn Wright of Clemson recorded her first career double-double, with a game-high 16 points and career-best 10 rebounds.

Clemson trailed 17-4; the rest of the game, the score was UNC 61, Clemson 60.