No. 16 Tar Heels Outlast Clemson, 65-58
CLEMSON, S.C. --- Xylina McDaniel had 19 points, six rebounds and six steals and No. 16 North Carolina rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Clemson, 65-58, Sunday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams. Waltiea Rolle added 16 points and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt finished with 15 points, six boards and six steals as Carolina won its first league game for the 17th time in 19 years.
Nikki Dixon had 22 points for Clemson (4-8, 0-1 ACC), while Quinyotta Pettaway finished with 10 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.
The Lady Tigers' zone defense stifled Carolina for much of the afternoon and the Tar Heels turned it over 10 times in the games opening five minutes. Clemson led 34-28 at the break and stretched that lead to 10 early in the second half.
But UNC (13-1, 1-0 ACC) finally picked up the intensity and used its defense to cut into the Clemson advantage. Carolina forced 35 Lady Tiger turnovers and converted those into 36 points on the afternoon, finally taking the lead for good on a McDaniel steal and coast-to-coast layup that was part of a decisive 15-0 run.
Clemson would not go quietly, however, and the Lady Tigers were back within two at 58-56 with two minutes to play. The Carolina lead was three when McDaniel, who had taken a hard fall and was trailing the play, picked the pocket of Charmaine Tay and went the distance for a layup to put UNC up 61-58.
Ruffin-Pratt and Krista Gross each made a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to ice the game for UNC.
Clemson won the rebounding battle, 48-35, but could not overcome a 20-point difference in points off turnovers. Carolina had a season-high 22 steals and won for the fourth time this season when trailing at halftime.
UNC will return home for its home league opener Thursday when the Tar Heels host No. 9 Maryland at 7 p.m.