CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina Central University rocketed out of the gate on the road at North Carolina, and closed the game on a similar hot streak, but the nationally-ranked Tar Heels were able to hold off the Eagles, 73-67 on Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Dean Smith Center.
NCCU (1-3) was not intimidated by nationally-ranked UNC (4-2) early in the contest, and immediately staked its claim on the court by scorching the net to start the game. The Eagles made seven consecutive field goals, including three-straight triples to rattle off a 10-0 run to surge ahead of the Tar Heels, 19-8 in the first nine minutes of the game.
#NCCUMBB junior Justin Whatley scored 13 points with four boards and went 2-for-4 from the arc in his season debut at North Carolina. Photo: Red Rocket Photography#EaglePride pic.twitter.com/lSB6Jz78aV
— NCCU Athletics (@NCCUAthletics) December 12, 2020
UNC was able to find its footing while the Eagles found their way into foul trouble, as the Tar Heels went 12-for-18 from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes. Armando Bacot was a big factor for the hosts as he collected 15 points in the first half, but it was RJ Davis who had the final word before the intermission with a layup to send UNC ahead, 30-28 to cap a 10-0 run to end the period.
UNC put its best foot forward to start the second half, as it sparked a 6-2 run over the first 2:30 to take a 36-30 advantage. The Tar Heels built up a lead as big as 16 points with help from eight consecutive points from Andre Platek at 65-49 with 4:46 remaining.
The Eagles refused to give in, and steadily chipped away at the deficit before closing the game on a 9-0 run, with six of those points coming from Justin Whatley in the final 1:16. However, the Eagles came up just shy of closing the deficit, as the timer expired with UNC taking a 73-67 win.
Whatley finished with 13 points in his season debut, and added two rebounds and four assists to his line as well. C.J. Keyser posted a joint game-high 19 points with five boards, and Nicolas Fennell added 11 points, and for caroms. Jamir Moultrie was the fourth Eagle to reach double-figures, with 10 points.
Bacot finished with a game-high matching 19 points with 11 rebounds to secure a double-double, and Day’Ron Sharpe contributed 12 points and six boards. Platek ended the game with 11 points, and Caleb Love chipped in 12 points.
As a team, the Eagles shot 42.1 percent (8-for-19) from the perimeter and 44.8 percent (26-for-58) from the field. The true difference was made at the charity stripe as the Eagles went 7-for-8 (87.5 percent), with all attempts coming in the second half, while UNC went 25-for-31 (80.6 percent), and 13-for-13 after the break.
The Eagles are not currently scheduled to hit the floor again before starting Southern Division play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in January.
Courtesy: NCCU Athletics