No. 6 UNC beats Appalachian State 84-52
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Stephanie Mavunga had a huge smile on her face, but it wasn't because she had just led No. 6 North Carolina to a 84-52 win against Appalachian State.
While Mavunga scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Tar Heels (9-0), after the game she was just glad her best friend and teammate Allisha Gray was sitting next to her instead of in the training room.
Gray, the team's leading scorer, added 12 points but also gave her team an early scare when a bad-looking turned ankle sent her to the locker room in the first half.
To Mavunga's relief - not to mention the rest of the Tar Heels -- Gray returned six minutes later to assist in the blowout win.
''I was panicking,'' Mavunga said. ''I had to start saying my prayers. I was so happy when I saw her get up.''
Maryah Sydnor had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Mountaineers (3-4), who fell behind by 27 points in the first half and pulled within 17 in the second half but were no match for UNC's fast-break exploitation of turnovers.
After a sloppy few opening minutes, North Carolina used a 14-2 run to open up a double-figure lead. From there, the UNC defense kept the heat on the Mountaineers.
''We were trying to put some pressure on them and get turnovers ... because we love to get out and run,'' UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
Appalachian State turned the ball over 30 times and shot 33 percent on the way to a season low in scoring.
North Carolina scored 30 points off turnovers and its 17 steals were a season high.
''The pressure that North Carolina brings is something that's really tough to simulate in practice,'' Mountaineers coach Angel Elderkin said. ''I think it took us close to 16 minutes into the first half before we even became comfortable. Then it was just a factor of being worn out.''
UNC: UNC has won 15 straight in the series, which dates back to 1974. The in-state rivals last played in 2002. . The Tar Heels face their fifth ranked opponent Tuesday and are the only team in the country with four wins against top-25 opponents.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers scored 15 of their 27 first-half points in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the period.
UNC hosts Oregon State on Tuesday.
Appalachian State hosts North Carolina A&T on Wednesday.
Four Tar Heels had at least three steals. . Appalachian State, which came into the game leading the Sun Belt Conference in scoring, missed eight of its first 10 shots in the game.
''Our practices have been abbreviated, and we have done as many shooting sessions in the last week or 10 days, so that could be some of it, but I love to shoot the three,'' Hatchell said in explaining her team's 0-for-7 shooting from 3-point range in the second half. ''They didn't give us a lot of looks, and also we were inside a lot. But we'll keep working on it, and they have the green light to shoot it if they're open.''