IOWA CITY - North Carolina's Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 16 of her game-high 22 points in the first half as the Tar Heels hammered on the gas pedal and left the Iowa women's basketball team in their dust for a 77-64 victory in Sunday's finals of the Preseason WNIT.
The Tar Heels (4-0) outscored Iowa 47-25 in the first half and maintained a lead of at least 12 points the rest of the way.
Ruffin-Pratt banked in a three-quarter court shot to beat the halftime buzzer, burying the Hawkeyes (3-1) under an insurmountable deficit.
"It was pretty much a miserable first half for us," said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder. "The second half I thought we got our composure, played a lot better and took care of the ball better."
But by then it was too late. Fifteen first-half turnovers for Iowa led to 19 points for the Tar Heels. North Carolina also shot 7-for-14 from 3-point range before the break, won the battle on the boards 23-15 and scored 16 second-chance points en route to capturing its second Preseason WNIT title.
Xylina McDaniel had her second double-double of the year with 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds for the Heels. Krista Gross scored 13 points and Waltiea Rolle added 11 for North Carolina.
Morgan Johnson led Iowa with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Jaime Printy, Samantha Logic and Melissa Dixon each chipped in 12 points.
"You can't take halves off," said Johnson, Iowa's 6-foot-5 senior center. "You have to come out and be prepared for what coach has told us in film: that they're going to be big, and they're going to be long and lanky.
"You have to come in with that mindset the next time of not letting a whole half slip away from us. It is going to be vital for our success down the road."
Ruffin-Pratt was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, while McDaniel was also an all-tournament team selection. Johnson and Printy were both honored as well.
"This was good for us to get four games this early in the year," said Bluder, "especially the last two against quality opponents. We're challenging ourselves and we want to do that.
"We would have liked to have taken advantage of that home opportunity because we're not going to get the opportunity to play North Carolina on our home floor again."
The Hawkeyes return to action on Tuesday night, hosting Robert Morris in a 7 p.m. contest back inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa St. 73, North Dakota 34
AMES - Iowa State's Brynn Williamson had career-highs of 17 points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots, three assists and five 3-pointers in helping the Cyclone women dismantle North Dakota, 73-34, Sunday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum.
Williamson shot 5-for-5 from distance and led four ISU players to score in double figures. Emiah Bingley shot 7-for-10 from the field on her way to a career-high 16 points and the Cyclones overcame 27 turnovers to triumph easily.
Hallie Christofferson finished with 12 points and Anna Prins added 10 for Iowa State, while Chelsea Poppens had eight points and eight rebounds in just 20 minutes of action. Poppens passed Tracy Gahan (1999-2002) for sixth on the all-time rebounding chart.
The Cyclones (2-0) sprinted to a 41-15 halftime lead and eased to the win, holding North Dakota (0-2) to 11-of-64 shooting (17 percent) to claim their 67th consecutive regular-season victory over a non-conference opponent.
The Fighting Sioux went scoreless for the first 6:11 of the game. Madi Buck led UND with 10 points.
Iowa State resumes play on Friday against Loyola Marymount at the Junkanoo Jam on Grand Bahama Island. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. The Cyclones will face either Tulsa or Illinois in Saturday's final round.
Drake 71, Illinois-Chicago 61
DES MOINES - Drake guards Carly Grenfell and Kyndal Clark combined to shoot 10-for-21 from 3-point land, scoring 23 and 22 points respectively to help head coach Jennie Baranczyk earn her first win with a 71-61 Bulldog victory over Illinois-Chicago.
Morgan Reid chipped in with 10 points for Drake (1-1), which needed just eight points from its bench to tame the Phoenix (1-2).
Rachel story had 18 points and Emily Kobel added 16 to lead UIC, which led by as many as seven points with 10 minutes left in the game.
Drake used a 19-4 run to overcome the deficit, sparked by 25 second-half points from Grenfell and Clark. Both made a career-high five 3-pointers, with Grenfell also achieving her career-high in scoring.
The Bulldogs to go Las Cruces, N.M., this weekend for the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic hosted by New Mexico State. Drake opens against UC-Irvine in Friday's 3:30 p.m. contest.