No. 12 North Carolina women beat UCLA 78-68

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 17, 2013 at 8:43 pm •  Published: November 17, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — With three starters in foul trouble and another hurt early in the second half, North Carolina needed a boost.

Once again, they turned to a newcomer to lead them.

Allisha Gray had a career-high 30 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in the Tar Heels' 78-68 victory over UCLA on Sunday. She became the first UNC freshman to score that many points in a game since current assistant coach Ivory Latta in 2004.

"My main focus is to do whatever I can to help the team," Gray said. "My teammates did a good job looking for me. Thanks to my teammates, I wouldn't have these 30 points without them."

The freshman made six 3-pointers to help the foul-plagued Tar Heels (2-1), who lost Brittany Rountree after she scratched her left eye early in the second half. Rountree had three fouls, and fellow starters Diamond DeShields and Xylina McDaniel had four. Stephanie Mavunga fouled out with nine points.

"The referees called the it the way it's supposed to be called," said Andrew Calder, who is guiding the Tar Heels while Hall of Fame coach Sylvia Hatchell is treated for leukemia. "That's the change in the game and we just have to adjust."

The Tar Heels were whistled for 31 fouls to 25 for UCLA. They made 22 of 34 free throws, while the Bruins were 27 of 37.

North Carolina traveled across the country to earn its first win in Los Angeles, where the Tar Heels had been 0-2. They tied the all-time series 4-4. Jessica Washington added 16 points and McDaniel scored 13.

"They battled us hard," Calder said. "UCLA gave great effort."

Thea Lemberger scored 19 points for the Bruins (1-2), who lost to their second ranked opponent. They opened the season with a 28-point loss to then-No. 17 Nebraska on the road.

"I challenged our team before the game that, win or lose, did you grow?" UCLA coach Cori Close said. "My team grew. We have a chance to grow and do something special."

Antonye Nyingifa had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out, Nirra Fields had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Lauren Holiday had 10 points and 11 rebounds in her first game in nearly a year. She sustained a head injury last Nov. 25 and missed the rest of the season.

"It was a physical game," Nyingifa said. "We know there's going to be new officiating changes, that they're going to make it tight. We can do better at the free throw line."