"ODU is a lot better than the score indicates," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We got rolling early and we were able to take them out of some things.
"We really focused on rebounding and on not giving up transition baskets. The players worked hard on getting on the boards and we had people come off the bench and play well. We got our defense going, which helped our offense."
The score was tied at 12-12 before a basketball by sophomore forward Nikita Bell with 13:53 to play in the first half set off the 10-point UNC run, during which five different players hit field goals. After Carolina took a 22-12 lead with 12 minutes remaining before halftime, the Lady Monarchs never got closer than six.
Junior center Candace Sutton led UNC with a season-high 17 points and added six rebounds and two blocks. Senior guard Coretta Brown tied her season high with 16 points, 11 of which came in the first five minutes of the game, when she hit all three of her three-point attempts.
Freshman guard Jessica Sell played a career-high 24 minutes and scored 11 points, including three three-pointers. Also in double figures was senior forward Jennifer Thomas, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
UNC shot 53.6 percent in the second half and 49.3 percent for the game, compared with 31.3 percent by ODU. Carolina outrebounded Old Dominion 53-34, led by a career high 11 boards from Bell, who also had seven points and five assists.
"We were outhustled and outrebounded," ODU coach Wendy Larry said. "UNC is one talented basketball team. They're certainly athletic and they have size."
Sophomore guard Shareese Grant led Old Dominion with a career-high 23 points and junior forward Monique Coker added 10 points and led the Lady Monarchs in rebounding with six.
Thomas, one of three team captains, knew the Tar Heels were ready to play even before the opening tip. "Our warmup was really good - we were focused and making all our shots," she said. "Everyone really seemed to be on the same page, and I thought we came out playing well from the start. We jumped on them from the beginning. We knew we had to be ready against a team like Old Dominion."
Thirteen Tar Heels saw action, with sophomore center Tiffany Tucker playing for the first time since last January, when she was sidelined by a knee injury.
UNC won't play for nine days, until the end of the university's exams period. The Tar Heels return to action on Dec. 17 against in-state rival Elon. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Carmichael Auditorium. ODU's next game is on Dec. 21 at Virginia Tech.