CHAPEL HILL, NC (AP) — Caleb Love scored 20 points and Pete Nance added 18 points as North Carolina No. 1 fended off Gardner-Webb 72-66 Tuesday night.
RJ Davis scored with back-to-back possessions down the stretch, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels (3-0). Armando Bacot added 10 points.
Anthony Selden had 21 points, Julien Soumaoro had 17 points and Kareem Reid added 10 points for Gardner-Webb (0-3), who faced a top-ranked team for the first time.
After falling 16 inches behind in the second half, the Runnin’ Bulldogs were 60-54 with less than four minutes to play. Nance fouled an offensive attack at the 3:38 mark.
Davis made two free throws with 1:22 left after Gardner-Webb had two possessions gone awry with a chance to cut into a 61-56 hole. Davis made a jumper on North Carolina’s next possession
Nance, a transfer from Northwestern, is the only new addition to the starting XI this season, replacing Brady Manek – a transfer from Oklahoma.
Love, who had three points at halftime, scored eight in North Carolina’s 10-0 start into the second half. He made his first five shots of the second half after going 1-5 before the break.
Nance collected 14 of North Carolina’s first 18 points. That surpassed his total score (13) from the first two games.
North Carolina led 26-22 at halftime, despite shooting 29% from the field. Aside from Nance’s 5-to-7, the Tar Heels were 4-to-24 while Gardner-Webb held an 18-4 lead in points in the suit.
Nance hit three 3s in the first 10 minutes and helped North Carolina take a 15-8 lead as Gardner-Webb weathered a nearly five-minute drought.
Gardner-Webb: The Runnin’ Bulldogs have lost three road games, but they’ve been competitive in every one of them. They were the aggressors for most of the first half and that certainly bodes well for a side who will have seven games away before a home game in Boiling Springs.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels don’t rack up many style points but are undefeated after three home games. They have shown that they can shift into a higher gear as these games progress. They eventually overtook an opponent, but the lead was only 40-38.
Gardner-Webb: Friday at Wofford
North Carolina: Sunday at home against James Madison.
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