GREENSBORO – The North Carolina women's basketball team needed a fresh start after ending the regular season with two consecutive losses.
With crisp passing around the perimeter and 46.7 percent shooting from the field, the No. 5 seeded Tar Heels (20-10, 9-7) cleared the air and romped to a 90-51 victory over No. 12 seeded Clemson (6-22, 2-14) in their first round game of the ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum.
After a close loss to top-seeded Duke at home on Sunday in the final regular season contest, UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell looked ahead to the post-season, particularly to today's game where her team had a chance to exact some payback for an earlier season loss to the Tigers.
Clemson upset the Tar Heels 52-47 at Carmichael Arena on Jan. 12, pulling close in the second half and eking out a surprising road victory. The Tigers held their opponents to a season-low points.
The Tar Heels were ranked at the time, though have since fallen from the Associated Press' national poll.
Hatchell said during Sunday's post-game news conference that her team had something for the Tigers. She was prophetic.
UNC started scoring early in the first half and never relented. They opened a 49-point lead with six minutes remaining.
The Tar Heels found the open shooter and fed her the ball. Several times that player was freshman guard Brittany Rountree, who finished with a game-high 21 points. She scored all of her points from beyond the arc, nailing 7 of 10 3-point attempts.
Rountree – a 38.5 percent 3-pointer shooter entering the game – has now made 12 of 17 attempts in the past two games.
North Carolina's athleticism was on full display.
Junior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 14 points and dished six assists, while freshman Danielle Butts added 14 points and five rebounds.
The Tar Heels outscored Clemson 36-16 in the paint and scored 29 points off 22 turnovers.
They delivered a dominant performance, coming at the end of a topsy-turvy regular-season. They entered the league torunament needing victories to help boslster their chances of earning a NCAA tournament bid.