“We were much better in the second half,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “In the first half, our scrambles were good for them. Our double teams weren’t very good. We didn’t get a goaltender, and they made the pass to the post-up area and got good shots out of it. …
“I think we did a much better job defensively in the second half. Our traps helped us as opposed to helping them.”
In their final non-conference game of the regular season, the Tar Heels (10-3) limited the Seahawks (6-9) to 31-percent shooting from the floor.
UNC Wilmington shot only 25 percent (9 of 36) in the first half, but that mark had as much to do with the Seahawks as it did with the Tar Heels.
The Seahawks had plenty of open shots that they didn’t convert.
“In the first half, I thought we did a pretty good job of handling the traps, and we got some decent shots,” said UNC Wilmington coach Buzz Peterson, a member of UNC’s 1982 NCAA championship team.
“We missed so many easy looks at the beginning of the game.”
The Seahawks misfired on their first 13 attempts of the game and needed offensive rebounds to score their first seven points. Had the Tar Heels been better on the boards, they could have pitched a shutout for the first 10 minutes of the first half.
The cold shooting allowed the Tar Heels to lead by as many as 15 points and take a 31-23 lead into halftime even though they were a step slow on defense, allowed 11 second-chance points and took bad shots on offense.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, UNC’s poor play did not continue.
The Tar Heels created havoc with their traps, forcing four turnovers and blocking a shot on UNC Wilmington’s first five possessions of the second half. The turnovers fueled a 12-2 run as UNC pulled away.
“We were more aggressive on the traps,” said UNC’s Brice Johnson, who had 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench. “We were getting up on them, not letting them pivot out like we were in the first half. We were just a lot more aggressive.”
Peterson used two timeouts before the first media stoppage of the second half to try to get his team back on track, but UNC’s press continued to present problems.
The Seahawks had 10 of their 17 turnovers in the second half, and two of them came during UNC’s clinching 11-0 run midway through the period.
The first, generated by a steal out of a trap, led to a dunk by James Michael McAdoo on a lob from Nate Britt. The second, a bad pass out of bounds against a trap, resulted in a 3-pointer by Leslie McDonald that gave the Tar Heels a 64-37 lead with under eight minutes remaining.
“Guys were getting in the right positions,” said McAdoo, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds. “I think that was definitely huge for us. It’s something that we practice relentlessly.”