UNC, ranked 18th in the AP poll and 20th in the USA Today/ESPN poll, struggled from the field in the first half, hitting just two of its first nine shots. The unranked Spiders led by six, 29-23, with 7:07 to play in the first half , but Carolina went on a 13-4 run over the next three minutes to take the lead for good. The Tar Heels led by nine at halftime, 48-39, despite shooting 31.1 percent from the field.Richmond shot 46.9 percent, but was 3-for-7 from the free throw line compared with 14-22 for Carolina.
"In the first half, I felt like we missed a lot of easy shots," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We only hit seven of 25 attempts in the paint. In the second half, we hit more of those shots and did a better job on the boards."
After the break, the Tar Heels hit eight of their first nine field goal attempts, including their first four three-pointers, to pull ahead by 20 with 15 minutes to play. The Spiders got the margin down to 15, 69-54, on a three-pointer by junior guard Elise Ryder with 13:22 remaining in the game, but could never draw any closer.
The Tar Heels outrebounded Richmond 63-43 , including a season-high 28 offensive rebounds. The bulk of the difference came in the second half, when UNC had a 34-17 advantage on the boards.
"Carolina is an extremely athletic and well-rounded team that can beat you in so many ways," Richmond coach Bob Foley said. "They can shoot the three and crash the boards, making it very difficult to prepare for them because they can do everything so well."
UNC forward Chrystal Baptist had her fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and a career-best 15 rebounds despite battling a stomach ailment. Sophomore center Candace Sutton turned in her first double-double of the season with 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Senior guard Nikki Teasley rebounded from a 0-for-5 start to score 15 points and led the team with seven assists.
Also scoring in double figures for the Tar Heels was freshman forward Kenya McBee, who contributed a career-high 12 points in 17 minutes of play off the bench. Metcalf, who didn"t start and saw her playing time limited by tendinitis in her knees, came one three-pointer from tying the school single-game record of seven.
Sophomore guard Amber Goppert led the Spiders with 15 points. Junior center Ebony Tanner, who is from Garner, N.C., and played at Ravenscroft High School, scored 14 points and led the team with nine rebounds. Junior forward Krystn Gull came off the bench to score 12.
"Richmond did a terrific job of running their offense," Hatchell said. "They're a well-coached team and I think they'll do well in their conference."
The Spiders return to action on Dec. 17, hosting Liberty for a 7 p.m. game.
UNC has a 12-day break before playing South Carolina on Dec. 20 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
"The break will be good for us," Hatchell said. "It will give the players time to focus on exams and let people get well*it seems like most of the team is sick or hurt right now. Then we'll refocus and get ready to play an outstanding South Carolina team."