UNC got an unexpectedly tough test from Kennesaw State on Sunday, as the Tar Heels hit the floor with only eight healthy players.
But the experienced starters got them through it.
Chay Shegog had 21 points and 11 rebounds and fellow senior She’la White tied her career high with 20 points, helping the No. 16 Tar Heels to a 76-62 win over the scrappy Owls at Carmichael Arena.
“Give Kennesaw State a lot of credit – they were ready for us and they’ve got some good shooters,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “We started off real sluggish and were a little out of sync, but (Shegog and White) picked up the slack for us. We just need to get it to Chay more frequently. And we ran a few things for She’la to get some shots and she shot the ball well. The freshmen will keep getting better and better.”
Junior wing Krista Gross added 13 points and eight rebounds in a career-high 33 minutes.
The Tar Heels (5-0) played without senior forward and regular starter Laura Broomfield (foot) along with freshman guard Shannon Smith, so freshmen Megan Buckland and Brittany Rountree both got the start.
“It felt just like any other game,” Shegog said. “I tried not to focus much on how many minutes I was playing. Krista is a strong rebounder, so I knew she would fill Laura’s spot.”
Ashley Holliday hit points 26 including eight 3-pointers for KSU, while Sametria Gideon adds 13 points and 12 rebounds.
KSU is 0-4 against the Tar Heels in trips to Chapel Hill over the last four seasons.
“We were prepared for their press, but when we saw the eight we knew they were going to have to change up somewhat and they did,” said KSU coach Colby Tilley, whose team had not previously lost to UNC by fewer than 36 points. “I’m just real proud of how hard our kids worked against a team like North Carolina. But we don’t have moral victories. If we do we find ourselves being satisfied.”
The Tar Heels shot 50 percent to 37.1 for the Owls, and won the rebound battle by a scant 37-36. UNC committed 17 turnovers to 22 for KSU.
“(Chay and I) know we have to play at a high level this season,” White said. “The only difference is playing more minutes. I just told my teammates we have to get on the same page defensively, and we have to take care of the ball better.”
The Tar Heels will play their first road game this season when they visit Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Wednesday night.