Newark, DE – Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 30 points to carry the third-seed North Carolina Tar Heels to a tough, 59-54, win over the 14th- seed Albany Great Danes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Waltiea Rolle nearly had a triple-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks for North Carolina (29-6) which will face sixth-seed and host Delaware in the round of 32.
Megan Craig put in 12 points off the bench and Lindsey Lowrie and Ebone Henry each chipped in 11 for Albany (27-4). Julie Forster had 13 rebounds but just six points on 2-of-10 shooting as well as six turnovers.
Neither team could find the touch offensively in the first half. Albany hit 30.4 percent from the floor and nailed 11-of-17 shots from the free-throw line to take a 28-23 lead into the break. North Carolina connected on just 26.9 percent of its first half shots.
Albany hit just 26.3 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes but led, 48-46, with just under seven minutes remaining. Ruffin-Pratt nailed a 3-pointer with 6:35 left to pull the Tar Heels ahead and the Great Danes never retook the lead, committing three turnovers and going 2-of-11 from the field in the final minutes.
The Tar Heels blocked nine shots and collected 11 steals. Albany had a slim 44-43 edge on the boards,