CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Cetera DeGraffenreid played much better the second time around and so did her team.
DeGraffenreid scored a career-high 22 points and ignited a 17-2 run to start the second half, helping No. 8 North Carolina defeat Georgia Tech 73-50 on Sunday.
DeGraffenreid also had eight assists for the Tar Heels (22-4, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who lost at Georgia Tech 66-62 on Jan. 22 in a game in which DeGraffenreid scored a season-low two points on 1-of-10 shooting.
“My only concern was that they beat us last time,” DeGraffenreid said. “They weren’t going to beat us again.”
Italee Lucas added 13 points for North Carolina, which bounced back from a 77-70 loss at No. 14 Florida State on Friday night.
Jessica Breland had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Christina Dewitt had 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels.
Sasha Goodlett scored 14 points to lead Georgia Tech (18-7, 5-5 ACC), which shot 6-for-30 from the field in the second half. Deja Foster added 12 points and Iasia Hemingway had 11 points for the Yellow Jackets, who were trying to beat North Carolina twice in the same season for the first time since 1991.
North Carolina led 34-32 at halftime before breaking open the game with a 17-2 run in the first 6 minutes of the second half. DeGraffenreid led the charge with a layup, two free throws and a pair of assists.
The Tar Heels punished Georgia Tech on their first possession after halftime, keeping the ball for a minute while grabbing five offensive rebounds and drawing three fouls before Dewitt made a layup.
“We got three fouls in 30 seconds, and that set the tone for the half,” said Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph, whose team suffered its fourth consecutive ACC road defeat. “We got back on our heels a little bit, and we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be on the offensive or defensive end.”
The Yellow Jackets made one of their first 17 shots after halftime, going more than 11 minutes without a basket during one stretch.
It was a big change from their play in the first half, which featured six ties and 10 lead changes. Georgia Tech led by six points in the early going as North Carolina struggled to control the ball against the Yellow Jackets’ trapping defense.
The Tar Heels had 19 of their 27 turnovers in the first half, including seven giveaways on their first 11 possessions. But they built their lead by turning over the ball just three times in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“The first part of the game, we were just making really poor decisions,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. But we settled down and got a little more organized and ran some sets to not take the ball where they wanted to trap us.
“We did a lot of good things. You can’t forget the turnovers to start the game, but we did a lot of good things, too.”
Both teams wore pink as part of the Pink Zone initiative, an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer. Georgia Tech’s players wore pink T-shirts during pregame warm-ups, and North Carolina’s players wore pink uniforms during the game.