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Women’s basketball: North Carolina Tar Heels, led by Allisha Gray, overpower Wake Forest Deacons

North Carolina has dominated Wake Forest in women’s basketball for a long time, and nothing about that changed Thursday night.

Allisha Gray’s 16 points led five players in double figures as the No. 17 Tar Heels drubbed the Deacons 83-45 at Carmichael Arena.

Freshman Jamie Cherry added 13 points for the Tar Heels (21-6, 8-5 ACC), followed by 12 from N’Dea Bryant and 10 each from Latifah Coleman and Jessica Washington.

The Tar Heels lead the all-time series 63-12 and have won 13 straight against the Deacons. Wake Forest (10-18, 1-13) has lost in its past 19 trips to Chapel Hill. The 38-point margin was the Deacons’ worst loss of the season.

“Allisha pulled a Michael Jordan,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “Earlier today she was diagnosed with the flu. I told her one of the best games he ever played was when he had the flu.

“It was a good win. We’ve had some ups and downs but were hitting the cylinders tonight. Fifty percent from the 3 (9-for-18) was really good.”

Millesa Calicott led Wake Forest with 16 points and Amber Campbell had 14. Senior center Dearica Hamby, who was averaging 20.4 points, finished with 10 rebounds and seven points.

UNC wore pink uniforms while the Deacons were in black with pink trim for the Tar Heels’ annual #Play4Kay game. The #Play4Kay series promotes breast cancer awareness and salutes the life and career of the late N.C. State coach Kay Yow.

“I was happy with our focus and our defensive effort early in the game,” Wake Forest coach Jen Hoover said. “But Gray got a couple of offensive rebounds early that hurt us a little bit. We were getting some good looks, but then the wheels fell off and we started throwing it to the wrong team.”

The Tar Heels shot 52.5 percent to the Deacons’ 38.6 but lost the rebound battle 33-25. Wake Forest committed 34 turnovers to UNC’s 14.

UNC led 43-23 at halftime behind 14 points from Gray. Calicott had eight for the Deacons.

“I just stayed in front of her and didn’t let her body me up,” said Bryant, who had the primary defensive responsibility for Hamby. “I just moved my feet a lot and tried to stay in front of her all the time.

“I thought we came out confident and ready to play. Everybody just wanted to get the job done.”

UNC shot 53.3 percent to the visitors’ 45.0 in the first half and was leading the rebound battle 14-12, but had committed nine turnovers to the Deacons’ 17.

The Tar Heels scored 10 straight points, the last on Washington’s layup at 15 minutes, 39 seconds, and were never really challenged thereafter. The biggest lead of the first half was 40-16 on two Bryant free throws with 2:40 remaining.

“We’ve been having some intense practices and competing well,” said Coleman, who was back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the previous three games for the first time this season, and responded with six assists and five steals. “I was able to do a lot of the things I do in practices, being aggressive, and that just carried over to tonight.”

UNC’s biggest lead of the game was 75-35 on a Washington layup from Cherry with 7:40 left.

The Tar Heels’ next game is at Miami on Sunday at 3. The Deacons will host the same Hurricanes next Thursday night.