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.
Read: How a 5-minute phone call between Roy Williams and LeVelle Moton led to North Carolina Central playing in Chapel Hill
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
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