UNC Women's Basketball tops Athletes in Action

Nikita Bell leads Tar Heels with 18 points in exhibition game win.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The North Carolina women's basketball team played to a close win in its second exhibition game of the season, defeating Athletes in Action 77-74 Wednesday night at Carmichael Auditorium. Sophomore guard Nikita Bell led UNC with 18 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with seven. Junior center Candace Sutton added 12 points and seven boards for the Tar Heels.

Athletes in Action never led in the game, but never let Carolina run away. UNC jumped to an early lead and was up by 10 points, 17-7, five minutes into the game. AIA quickly closed the gap and tied the score at 23-23 on a field goal by Shea Mahoney with 9:08 to play before halftime. The Tar Heels then stretched their lead to as many as 12, but AIA closed the gap to seven, 41-34, at the half.

The Tar Heels were up by 13 with seven minutes remaining in the game before AIA made a 16-6 run to pull within three, 75-72, with just over a minute to play. Bell hit her eighth field goal of the night and senior guard Coretta Brown sank two free throws to hold off the visitors and claim the win. Brown was 1-for-10 from the field on the night but 8-for-8 from the free throw line to finish with 10 points.

Athletes in Action's Katrena Carr, who played at Penn State, led all scorers with 19 points. Also in double figures for AIA were Katie Voigt (Wisconsin, '01) with 17, Mandy Arndtson (North Dakota, '01) with 15 and A.J. Whitehead (Bethel, '01) with 11.

Carolina shot 43.5 percent from the field, compared with 39.1 for AIA. The teams combined for 51 turnovers, 25 by the Tar Heels.

UNC's win followed an 87-74 victory against Premier Players Sunday in the Tar Heels' first exhibition. The team now turns its attention to the season opener on Nov. 22 against Davidson.

"We've had two good games now to do some measuring," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We know we've got some things to work on, and we've got some time now to do that. In these games, we wanted to give everyone a lot of chances to play so when we get in games that count, we;ll know who can count on to get the job done."

All 12 healthy players on the UNC roster saw at least four minutes of time Wednesday, with no one playing more than 27 minutes. The team took the floor with an entirely different starting five - Chrystal Baptist, Nikita Bell, Carrie Davis, Jenni Laaksonen and Jessica Sell - than it had in the first exhibition. "I thought this group started well and did a good job," Hatchell said. "We wanted to see how different people played as starters."

Hatchell was particularly pleased with the play of Sell, a freshman guard. In 15 minutes on the court, she was 3-for-3 from the field, including two three-pointers, with a team-best five assists and no turnovers. La'Tangela Atkinson, the team's other freshman, had seven points, six rebounds and three blocks.

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