Carolina advances in P-WNIT

Teasley becomes UNC's career leader in assists as Heels defeat Evansville, 89-69. Next up: UConn.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.-Six players scored in double figures for the Tar Heels Sunday afternoon as the University of North Carolina women's basketball team beat Evansville 89-69 to advance to the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT. UNC (2-0) will face top-ranked Connecticut (2-0) Thursday in Storrs, Conn. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

UNC guard Coretta Brown led all scorers with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. The junior also had five rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes on the court. Freshman guard Leah Metcalf scored 18 points, including five three-pointers. Also in double-figures for Carolina were sophomore center Candace Sutton (12 points), senior guard Nikki Teasley (12 points), freshman forward Nikita Bell (11 points) and sophomore forward Chrystal Baptist (10 points). Baptist also grabbed 10 rebounds to turn in a double-double in 21 minutes of play.

"I like to see six in double figures for us," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "That means we had good teamwork and good balance."

With eight assists, Teasley took over Carolina's career assists record and now has a total of 547 in 93 career games, an average of 5.9 per game. Coming into the contest, she needed seven assists to break the 15-year-old record of 545 held by Pam Leake (1983-86). Teasley also had eight rebounds, three steals and four turnovers in 29 minutes off the bench in her first appearance for the Tar Heels since March of 2000. She took the 2000-01 academic year away from school and had to sit out the first game of this season for a violation of the NCAA's outside competition rule.

"Nikki hadn't worn a Carolina uniform in about 18 months and she told me before the game she was nervous," Hatchell said. "I thought she did a good job today and got some of her jitters out."

Evansville (1-1) led 4-0 early as UNC missed its first two shots from the field, but the Tar Heels took a 7-4 lead on Brown's three-pointer with 17:43 to play in the first half and never trailed again. With a 20-2 run, Carolina opened up a 29-9 lead with 9:11 remaining before halftime. The game's slimmest margin after that was 13 with 2:07 left in the game.

"I'm proud of our kids,' Evansville coach Tricia Cullop said. "They hung in there and cut the point differential late in the game when we could have folded."

Senior guard Latasha Austin and senior center Shyla McKibbon-Puelston led the Purple Aces with 16 points each. Senior guard Tami Masterson came off the bench to add 12 on four three-pointers. Sophomore forward Jamie Gray and McKibbon-Puelston grabbed nine rebounds each.

"I give a lot of credit to Evansville," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "They're a very experienced team with seven seniors and they're very skilled."

The win puts North Carolina in the semifinals of the single-elimination tournament, along with Connecticut, Vanderbilt and the winner of this afternoon's Colorado-New Mexico matchup. UNC leads the series with UConn 2-1, but the Huskies won the last meeting, 77-62 at the Central Fidelity Classic in Richmond, Va., on Dec. 2, 1995. The Tar Heels have never played in Storrs.

'UConn will be a good test for us,' Hatchell said. 'We knew we've got some things to learn, but we're ready for the challenge. I think we'll match up with them and I guarantee we'll give it all we've got.'

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