No. 11 Tar Heels Beat No. 20 FSU, 72-62
CHAPEL HILL --- Xylina McDaniel scored 15 of her career-high 19 points after halftime and No. 11 North Carolina withstood a furious rally to top No. 20 Florida State, 72-62, Thursday night at Carmichael Arena. Waltiea Rolle finished with 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds as the Tar Heels won their 20th game and gave head coach Sylvia Hatchell her 899th career victory.
UNC (20-2, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) looked poised to run away with it early, darting out to a 21-8 lead just eight minutes in. The advantaged swelled to 19 on Tierra Ruffin-Pratt's long 2 with just over four to play in the half, but the Seminoles gradually chipped away over the next 13 minutes.
Natasha Howard sparked a 12-2 run that spanned five minutes across halftime before Leo Rodriguez took over for Florida State (17-4, 7-3 ACC). The Canary Islands senior scored 11 points over a seven-minute stretch and Alexa Deluzio's 3 with 9:01 to play gave FSU its first lead of the night at 53-52.
Rolle and Krista Gross, who finished with a game-high 13 rebounds, scored on consecutive possessions to stake the Tar Heels to a 3-point advantage before it was McDaniel's turn to take over.
The Columbia, S.C., freshman scored 10 points over the next five minutes to push the Carolina advantage to 8, and the Seminoles would get no closer. Ruffin-Pratt, Coleman and Brittany Rountree made 6 of 8 free throws in the final 2:15 to salt away UNC's 20th win of the season.
Rodriguez led Florida State with 18, while Deluzio finished with 16 and Howard had 12 points and 11 boards.
Carolina, who won just 20 games en route to missing the NCAA tournament a year ago, reached that mark with still nine league games to go in the regular season. Getting to that milestone in January is something the Tar Heels hadn't done since their 2006-07 Final Four campaign, and marked the 29th time in 38 seasons a Hatchell-coached squad has hit 20 wins.
UNC will try to make Hatchell just the third coach in women's basketball history to reach 900 wins when the Tar Heels host Duke Sunday afternoon at 1.