CLEMSON, S.C. – Italee Lucas scored 15 points as No. 13 North Carolina overcame a sloppy effort to win its 16th straight against Clemson, 60-47, on Thursday night.
The Tar Heels (22-3, 8-2 ACC) came into this one off their biggest win of the season, a 62-60 victory over No. 5 Duke last Monday night. And North Carolina played most of this one like it was still celebrating.
The Tar Heels had a season-high 27 turnovers, 11 more than their average, and were just 4 of 18 on 3-pointers. Still, it didn't cost them against struggling Clemson (10-15, 3-7), which lost its 52nd straight contest against a ranked opponent.
Laura Broomfield had 13 points and 11 rebounds for North Carolina. Jessica Breland and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt also had 11 boards for the Tar Heels, who outrebounded Clemson 58-34. Breland finished with 10 points for her double-double.
Sthefany Thomas led the Lady Tigers with 13 points. However, she was 5 of 18 overall and 3 of 13 on 3-pointers against North Carolina's defense.
For North Carolina, things don't get much better than a win over Triangle rival Duke. Plus, the Tar Heels have a key ACC contest with No. 20 Miami on Sunday, so maybe this letdown was expected.
They had nine turnovers less than 8 minutes in and played with a sloppiness not often seen in coach Sylvia Hatchell's clubs. When Kirstyn Wright hit a 3-pointer with 13:29 to go in the half, Clemson led 10-8.
That's when North Carolina kicked into gear with a 20-7 run over the next 10 minutes to take charge.
Laura Broomfield had an two inside baskets and a three-point play. Lucas added a jumper and a 3-pointer. When She'la White knocked down a jumper, the Tar Heels were ahead 28-17 and cruising.
Clemson struggled to keep pace. The Lady Tigers shot just 27 percent in the first half (10 of 37) and were outrebounded by the bigger Tar Heels 30-19.
Clemson was probably glad to be within 35-25 at the half. Two weeks ago at Duke, the Lady Tigers trailed 59-12 at the half on the way to 92-37 loss.
North Carolina used a 9-4 run at the start of the second half to lead 44-29 and figured to build on that. Instead, the Tar Heels lost their rhythm and were held to 25 points in the second half.
The Lady Tigers got as close as 53-44 with 6 minutes left, but could not reel in North Carolina.