By R.L. Bynum
No. 13 North Carolina’s first road test of the season was just that against a feisty James Madison team. But the perimeter shooting of Eva Hodgson gave the Tar Heels control, and Deja Kelly put the game away.
Kelly scored 20 of her team-high 22 points in the second half as the Tar Heels (4–0) took the lead for good late in the third quarter on their way to a 76–65 victory Sunday afternoon over the Dukes in Harrisonburg, Va.
“It was a battle,” UNC coach Courtney Banghart said. “We needed that, right? You need the opportunity to play a true road game. We had a real collective win.”
Three 3-pointers from Hodgson, who finished with 18 points and four 3-pointers, fueled a 23–11 run midway through the second half to turn a three-point deficit into a 56–47 lead early in the fourth quarter. Hodgson was familiar with James Madison from when it was a league foe during her days playing for William & Mary.
“Really, we’re a much better team when Eva takes 3s,” Banghart said. “We’re just a better team that way. She was looking to distribute too much in the first half. Eva obviously was huge. And I told her at halftime that if she doesn’t look to extend the defense with her 3-point shot, she doesn’t help us as much as she thinks. I thought she did a good job of making adjustments.”
Alyssa Ustby scored 12 of her 15 points in the first half, but James Madison held a 34–30 halftime lead. Ustby sat out much of the second half with four fouls.
“Deja kind of took over there after really not shooting well and starting slow in the first half,” Banghart said of Kelly, who had 13 fourth-quarter points. “It’s the first time that we’ve seen player-to-player all year long. So to have to do it on the road, obviously good experience for our guys.”
Center Anya Poole, who collected six points and 12 rebounds, was a key factor down the stretch.
“She took her first charge of the game; she came up with some key offensive and defensive rebounds,” Banghart said of Poole. “She was just really critical.”
Neither team led by more than four points until Carolina pulled away at the end.
UNC played the first of four consecutive games away from Chapel Hill before returning home to meet UNCW on Dec. 7.
Kiki Jefferson led the Dukes (3–2) with 30 points.
NOTES — The Tar Heels took a bus back to Chapel Hill after the game before they head to Portland for two games at the Phil Knight Invitational. UNC faces Oregon (3–0 entering Monday’s home game against Southern Utah) at 5 p.m. Thursday (ESPNU), and either No. 7 Iowa State (3–0 entering Sunday’s home game against Columbia) or Michigan State (6–0) at either 1 p.m. or 7:30. … It was the Tar Heels’ fourth consecutive victory over JMU after the Dukes won the first meeting 69–67 in overtime in Charlottesville, Va., in the 1976–77 seasons. UNC won 93–47 last season.
No. 13 UNC 76, JMU 65
|16||Wednesday||93–25||South Carolina State||Home||3–0|
|20||Sunday||76–65||James Madison||Harrisonburg, Va.||4–0|
|Phil Knight Invitational|
|24||Thursday||85–79||No. 18 Oregon||Portland||5–0|
|27||Sunday||73–64||No. 5 Iowa State||Portland||6–0|
|December||ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|1||Thursday||6 p.m.||No. 6 Indiana||Bloomington, Ind.||Big Ten Network|
|7||Wednesday||6 p.m.||UNCW||Home||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|11||Sunday||1 p.m.||Wofford||Home||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|16||Friday||6 p.m.||South Carolina – Upstate||Home||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|20||Tuesday||7 p.m.||No. 22 Michigan||Charlotte||ESPN2|
|ACC season begins|
|29||Thursday||8 p.m.||Florida State||Home||RSN|
|1||Sunday||4 p.m.||No. 11 Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Va.||ACCN|
|5||Thursday||6 p.m.||Miami||Coral Gables, Fla.||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|8||Sunday||4 p.m.||No. 7 Notre Dame||Home||ACCN|
|12||Thursday||7 p.m.||Virginia||Charlottesville, Va.||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|15||Sunday||3:30||No. 13 N.C. State||Home||ESPN|
|22||Sunday||4 p.m.||Georgia Tech||Home||ACCN|
|26||Thursday||6 p.m.||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|5||Sunday||Noon||No. 10 Louisville||Louisville||ESPN2|
|9||Thursday||7 p.m.||Syracuse||Syracuse||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|12||Sunday||Noon||Boston College||Home||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|16||Thursday||8 p.m.||No. 13 N.C. State||Raleigh||ACCN|
|19||Sunday||4 p.m.||Wake Forest||Home||ACCN|
|23||Thursday||8 p.m.||No. 11 Virginia Tech||Home||RSN|
|1–5||Wednesday–Sunday||TBA||TBA||Greensboro||ACCN Wed.-Sat.; final on ESPN or ESPN2|
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications