College Basketball Roundup: No. 1 Tar Heels top UNCW opener

Eighteen of the state's 19 Division I teams played on college basketball's opening night

UNC guard Caleb Love drives against UNC Wilmington guard Shykeim Phillips and center Victor Enoh during the Tar Heels’ 69-56 win Monday in Chapel Hill. (Chris Seward / AP Photo)

CHAPEL HILL — Players for No. 1 UNC provided reminders that this was just the beginning Monday night.

Caleb Love and RJ Davis scored 17 points apiece and the Tar Heels started a season of grand expectations by pulling away from UNC Wilmington with a 69-56 victory Monday night.

“I think we all came out a little rusty,” senior forward Armando Bacot said. “It’s not easy winning games. I’m glad it’s the first game and not later on in the season.”

Bacot added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Tar Heels, who were perhaps most impressive at the defensive end. UNCW shot just 29.8% from the field.

The Tar Heels, who were the NCAA Tournament runner-up in April, began the new season with the top ranking for the first time in seven years. It’s a record 10th time that Carolina has been ranked No. 1 to start a season — one more than rival Duke.

“We didn’t hit our stride last year til January, February,” forward Leaky Black said. “It’s a win. It’s Day 1, literally. I’m excited for the potential that we have. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Trazarien White scored 19 points for UNCW, which faced a top-ranked team for the first time in program history. Shykeim Phillips had 11 points and Donovan Newby added 10. The Seahawks went 4-for-16 on 3-pointers.

“For us to stick to the process is important,” UNCW coach Takayo Siddle said. “I think that’s something to build on.”

After an incredible NCAA Tournament run for the Tar Heels last spring, second-year coach Hubert Davis knows it will take time to return to that level.

“It gives us a really good baseline on what we need to work on and improve at,” the coach said. “My hope is that it was first-game anxiousness and nervousness.”

UNC led 32-21 at halftime behind RJ Davis’ 11 points, but it wasn’t easy.

“We were rushing and taking bad shots,” Bacot said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s the first game.”

It was tied 17-17 with six minutes to go in the first half before a 12-2 run for the Tar Heels, who missed 10 of their first 14 shots prior to that spurt.

The Tar Heels have won their first game of a season for 18 years in a row and 21 consecutive Smith Center openers.

North Carolina reserves managed only six points. UNCW held a 37-32 rebounding edge.

“They held me to nine rebounds,” said Bacot, a preseason All-American. “I would say that’s probably a bad game for me.”

UNC was credited with four assists, matching its lowest total since a double-overtime loss to Texas A&M in the 1980 NCAA Tournament.

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is passing up good shots to get great shots,” Hubert Davis said. “That just wasn’t there.”

That was all part of awkward offense.

“At times, we couldn’t even catch the basketball,” the coach said. “I know we have a veteran group, but it was a first game.”

On the flip side, UNCW’s three assists were the fewest for a Carolina opponent since December 1975 against Kentucky.

UNCW has its home opener Friday against Allen, while the Tar Heels are home again the same night against College of Charleston.

Wake Forest 71, Fairfield 59

WINSTON-SALEM — Daivien Williamson, Cameron Hildreth and Delaware transfer Andrew Carr each scored 14 points and Wake Forest posted a 71-59 win over Fairfield in the season opener Monday night.

Wake Forest won 25 games a year ago, 19 more than it won in the 2020-21 season, and reached the third round of the NIT.

Carr scored the first 10 points for the Deacons, who trailed by six, 21-15 with seven minutes left in the first half. Wake Forest finished the period on a 17-4 run to lead 32-25 at intermission.

Freshman Bobi Klintman scored 11 points and grabbed six boards off the bench and Wake Forest shot 39.1% from the floor (18 of 46) and hit just 6 of 22 shots from beyond the arc.

Caleb Fields scored 14 points, Supreme Cook added 13 and TJ Long scored 11 off the bench to lead Fairfield. The Stags shot 21 of 55 from the field and were 8 of 29 from distance.

NC State 99, Austin Peay 50

RALEIGH — Terquavion Smith scored 26 points to lead five in double-figure scoring and NC State rolled to a 99-50 victory over Austin Peay on Monday night in a season opener.

Smith shot 9 of 15 from the floor, made three 3-pointers and had five assists. Smith, a Greenville, N.C. native who averaged 16.3 points last season, was the first freshman to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in 3-pointers made (96) since Duke’s J.J. Redick led the ACC as a rookie in the 2002-03 season.

Jarkel Joiner had 18 points and eight assists for NC State. Jack Clark added 15 points, and Casey Morsell and D.J. Burns Jr. scored 10 apiece.

Smith made a 3 and then forced a turnover for a dunk, and the Wolfpack had a double-digit lead about five minutes into the game. NC State shot 61% (19 of 31) in the half with Smith and Joiner chipping in 12 points apiece. Elijah Hutchins-Everett scored all eight of his points in the first half for Austin Peay, and his jumper at the 9:24 mark ended a nearly seven-minute scoring drought.

Shon Robinson scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead Austin Peay.

UNC Asheville 98, Central Florida 95 (2OT)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Drew Pember scored 40 points and UNC Asheville defeated UCF 98-95 in double overtime on Monday night in a season opener.

Pember knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game 76-76, and a last-second 3-point attempt from UCF was off the mark to force overtime.

It was 86-all at the end of the first overtime. In the second OT, Jamon Battle had a key three-point play and Fletcher Abee hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes. Abee’s last 3-pointer with 55 seconds left gave Asheville the lead for good.

Pember had nine rebounds for the Bulldogs. Tajion Jones added 20 points while going 7 of 12 (4 for 8 from distance), and he also had six rebounds. Nicholas McMullen went 5 of 5 from the field to finish with 11 points.

Taylor Hendricks led the Knights in scoring, finishing with 23 points, two steals and three blocks. UCF also got 20 points and two steals from CJ Kelly. In addition, Brandon Suggs finished with 16 points and four steals.

UNC Asheville’s next game is Saturday against Brevard at home.

Charlotte 82, Coppin State 59

CHARLOTTE — Jackson Threadgill’s 16 points helped Charlotte defeat Coppin State 82-59 on Monday night in the season opener.

Threadgill shot 6 for 9, including 4 for 6 from beyond the arc for the 49ers. Brice Williams scored 14 points and added six rebounds. Lu’Cye Patterson recorded 13 points and was 4 of 6 shooting, including 2 for 3 from distance, and went 3 for 4 from the line.

The Eagles were led by Sam Sessoms, who posted 24 points. Coppin State also got eight points and eight rebounds from Nendah Tarke. Justin Winston also recorded eight points and three steals.

Queens 83, Marshall 82

CHARLOTTE — Kenny Dye had 24 points and made the go-ahead layup with nine seconds left and new Division I member Queens University held on for an 83-82 victory over Marshall on Monday night in a season opener.

Marshall would get two contested opportunities under the basket but couldn’t sink the game-winner as the Royals pulled off the victory in their first Division I game.

Dye also contributed seven rebounds and 10 assists for the Royals. Gavin Rains added 14 points while finishing 7 of 9 from the floor, and he also had 13 rebounds. AJ McKee recorded 14 points and shot 5 for 11, including 2 for 3 from beyond the arc.

Taevion Kinsey finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and six steals for the Thundering Herd. Andrew Taylor added 20 points, four assists and three steals for Marshall. Kamdyn Curfman also put up 15 points and two steals.

Queens next hosts Clinton College on Thursday.

No. 18 Virginia 73, NC Central 61

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kadin Shedrick had thoughts of Navy all over again.

A year ago, in Virginia’s opening game, the Cavaliers lost to the Midshipmen. With just over 14 minutes to play Monday night, No. 18 Virginia faced a similar scenario, having blown a 16-points first-half lead and suddenly trailing in a quiet home arena.

But veterans Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman sparked a 15-2 second-half run, and Virginia surged past North Carolina Central 73-61.

“Part of me was just like hoping it wasn’t last year all over again,” Shedrick said. “And, you know, I think we all just realized we had to lock in at that moment. Like, we couldn’t let them continue to build this momentum.”

The point guards handled that at the offensive end.

Clark hit a 3 from the top of the key, and Beekman followed with a steal and breakaway, bringing the crowd’s roars back. After Justin Wright scored for the Eagles to make it 48-46, Beekman hit a 3, Clark fed Francisco Caffaro for a dunk in traffic and Ben Vander Plas hit another 3.

It was 58-46, and a repeat of that Navy disappointment was averted.

Eagles coach LeVelle Moton said he thought his team had a good game plan for slowing Clark, a fifth-year senior, but when the game got close, he braced for something big.

“We knew Clark was going to come. Like he may not make all the shots, but I knew he was going to make the right play and make significant plays at significant times,” he said.

Armaan Franklin led Virginia with 21 points in the season opener for both teams.

Wright scored 20 and Eric Boone 18 for the Eagles, who closed within 38-30 at the half. They used a 12-0 run just after halftime to go ahead 44-43 on a basket by Boone with 14:18 to play, quieting the stunned crowd at John Paul Jones Arena.

That lasted less than 20 seconds before Clark and Beekman took over.

Beekman, Caffaro and Shedrick also scored 10 for the Cavaliers.

The Eagles remain on the road, playing at Appalachian State on Thursday night.

Colorado State 65, Gardner-Webb 63

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Isaiah Rivera’s jumper in the closing seconds lifted Colorado State past Gardner-Webb, 65-63 in the season opener Monday night.

John Tonje scored 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting (3 for 5 from 3-point range) and 5 of 8 from the free-throw line for the Rams. Patrick Cartier scored 12 points while shooting 5 of 7 from the field and 1 for 4 from the line. Rivera shot 4 of 9 from the field and 3 for 4 from the line to finish with 11 points.

Julien Soumaoro finished with 12 points and two steals for the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb also got 11 points from Anthony Selden. Kareem Reid also had 10 points, 10 rebounds and two steals.

Rivera scored seven points in the first half and Colorado State went into halftime trailing 36-25. Colorado State outscored Gardner-Webb by 13 points in the second half. Tonje led the way with 11 second-half points.

Gardner-Webb visits SFA on Thursday.

Georgia 68, Western Carolina 55

ATHENS, Ga. — Kario Oquendo scored 18 points, Frank Anselem added 11, and Georgia defeated Western Carolina 68-55 in a season opener on Monday night.

The win came in the debut of Bulldogs coach Mike White, the 23rd coach in Georgia’s 118 seasons of basketball.

Anselem’s jumper with 18:40 remaining in the first half were the game’s only points until teammate Braelen Bridges scored three-and-a-half minutes later. Tre Jackson finally got the Catamounts on the board when he hit a 3-pointer with 14:46 remaining.

Georgia, which had 13 assists and 21 turnovers, struggled to pull away, and Western Carolina was within 42-40 when Bernard Pelote hit a 3 with 13 minutes left. WCU was within six points with eight minutes to go but never got closer.

Tyzhaun Claude, a junior who scored 3.4 points per game last season, had 18 points and seven rebounds for Western Carolina and Jackson finished with 17 points, six assists and three steals.

Other scores

UNC Greensboro 93, Johnson & Wales 60
Appalachian State 142, Warren Wilson 74
Davidson 87, Guilford 64
Elon 80, Erskine 55
NC A&T 100, Edward Waters 61
Campbell 79, St. Augustine 62
High Point 111, Pfeiffer 71