UNCASVILLE, CT – It took more than 15 minutes for the Tar Heels to get going, but the No. 24 UNC men’s basketball team bounced back from it’s first loss of the season with a ten-point win in the semifinal of the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic against Richmond, 82-72.
The Spiders started hot from behind the arc. Richmond went into the game shooting 19 percent; Saturday the Spiders shot 4-6 in the first 20 minutes.
Richmond jumped out to a nine-point lead at 17-8, but Carolina answered before the mid-way point in the first half with a 9-0 run. The Spiders also owned the backboards with a 10-7 edge in the first half.
The Carolina defense stepped up in the final four-minute segment of the half shutting down the perimeter shooting, and the Tar Heels took their first lead with 37 seconds left until the break. UNC held on and took the 36-33 lead into the locker room.
Carolina never relinquished the lead. Brice Johnson scored a career-high 24 points; Marcus Paige set a new career mark at 26.
Richmond finished the game shooting 32 percent from behind the arc, and Carolina was able to take over the advantage in rebounding, 36-31.
After shooting 22-48 from the free-throw line against Belmot, which cost the Tar Heels their first loss of the season, UNC improved shooting 70 percent, 26-37.
UNC barely edged out Richmond from the field shooting 46 percent compared to 45 percent. The Tar Heels also shot 46 percent from behind the arc as a team.
With the win, the Tar Heels improved to 3-1 and will face the winner of the Louisville, Fairfield Hall of Fame Tipoff semifinal game. Sunday. The Spiders fell to 3-2 and will face the loser in the consolation game. The championship game tips off at 1:00 p.m. and can be heard on 97.9 FM WCHL beginning at 11:30 a.m. with Countdown to Tipoff.