EditorsNote: update 2: fixes UNC Wilmington’s second in second graf
North Carolina freshman phenom Cole Anthony needed a wing man, and he may have found one Friday night in graduate transfer Justin Pierce.
Pierce supplemented Anthony’s 20 points and 10 rebounds with his 18 points and 12 boards as the duo led No. 9 North Carolina (2-0) to a 78-62 win over host UNC Wilmington (1-1).
Anthony, coming off a 34-point outburst Tuesday in the Tar Heels’ win over Notre Dame, struggled from the floor, making only 7 of 24 shots.
Pierce set the tone early as he paced Carolina to an 11-7 lead with seven points, then concluded a 14-3 Tar Heels run midway through the first half with his third 3-pointer that stretched the North Carolina lead to 30-21 with 7:45 remaining.
Pierce, who played three games in Trask Coliseum as a member of the William & Mary Tribe, also went over 1,000 career points and posted the 17th double-double of his career.
Tar Heels junior Garrison Brooks notched his first career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Shykeim Phillips and Jaylen Sims led the Seahawks with 12 points each, and Sims pulled down 12 rebounds. Marten Linssen added 10 points.
North Carolina’s defense played a key role, holding the Seahawks to 34.7 percent shooting from the floor. UNC Wilmington only made 4 of 16 shots over the last 8:45 in the first half as North Carolina took a 40-29 lead at the break.
The Tar Heels needed that type of defensive effort as they shot only 37.5 percent while making only 53.3 percent of their free throws (16 of 30).
North Carolina forward Armando Bacot went into the locker room midway through the first half after being hit in the head, and he never returned to the game. He had picked up two quick fouls in three scoreless minutes.
The Tar Heels were again without Brandon Robinson, who is recovering from an ankle injury, but is no longer in a walking boot.
North Carolina takes a week off before hosting Gardner-Webb on Nov. 15. UNC Wilmington ends a three-game homestead when it hosts Campbell on Tuesday.
—Field Level Media