UNC women's basketball opens with win in P-WNIT

Freshman Leah Metcalf led UNC with 20 points in a 77-59 win over George Mason in the first round of the Preseason WNIT.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--The University of North Carolina women's basketball team opened the 2001-02 season Friday evening with a 77-59 win over visiting George Mason in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. With the victory, the Tar Heels (1-0) advance to host Evansville, a first-round winner over Temple on Friday. The second-round game, the first ever meeting between Evansville and UNC, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Carmichael Auditorium.

Tar Heel guard Leah Metcalf led all scorers Friday with 20 points. Metcalf, the Atlantic Coast Conference's Preseason Rookie of the Year, was 12-for-15 from the free throw line and had six assists, five steals and five turnovers in 34 minutes of play in her collegiate debut. Sophomore center Candace Sutton had 14 points and nine rebounds and junior guard Coretta Brown added 12 points for Carolina. Junior forward Jennifer Thomas came off the bench to lead the team with 10 rebounds and also chipped in nine points.

Sophomore guard Vernessa Neamo led George Mason with 16 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Jen Derevjanik added 12 points to go with seven assists. Junior guard Shelbylynn McBride was the third Patriots player in double figures with 10 points.

George Mason (0-1) jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a three-pointer by freshman Laura Kooij and a basket by junior Khalilah Smith and led by seven, 10-3, three minutes into the game. UNC then went on a 15-2 run and pulled away from the Patriots for good. The Tar Heels led 35-21 at halftime, and GMU got no closer than 11 in the second half.

"We made some mistakes, but I just told the team to keep playing hard and we'll get better," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "Leah Metcalf continues to play well. She didn't shoot well from the field [4-13], but she got a lot of foul shots because she was penetrating."

Metcalf, who averaged 19.5 points in the Tar Heels' two exhibition games, was joined in the starting lineup by Sutton, Brown, freshman forward Nikita Bell and sophomore forward Chrystal Baptist. Brown played the entire first half, but saw only nine minutes in the second because of leg cramps.

UNC shot 33.3 percent (14-42) from the field in the first half, but improved to 50 percent in the second, 40 percent for the game. George Mason shot 33.3 percent (20-60) for the game.

"We didn't shoot the ball real well, but some of that can be attributed to Carolina's defense," George Mason coach Debbie Taneyhill said. "At halftime, we felt like if we could just shoot the ball better we could get back in it.

"This game was a win-win situation for us. We were happy to be in the tournament, and to get to play a team of Carolina's caliber at this point in the season is good experience for us."

George Mason returns to action next Friday, Nov 16, with a home game against Hartford.

UNC guard Nikki Teasley, the only senior on Carolina's roster, did not dress for Friday's game while serving a one-game suspension for a violation of the NCAA's outside competition rule. She will join the lineup for Sunday's game against Evansville, a 76-70 winner in its game with Temple.

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