- Associated Press - Thursday, January 16, 2014

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Once Diamond DeShields started heating up for No. 9 North Carolina, it was all over.

DeShields had 24 points and the Tar Heels shot 55 percent from the field in a 78-55 victory over Clemson on Thursday night.

The freshman scored 18 points during a 13-minute stretch that spilled over into the second half.

“Things have just been looking a lot more clear when I’m out there, and I’m able to see a lot more,” DeShields said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad it’s happening. It’s really opened up some shots for me and allowed me to be more calm and poised in my offense.”

Allisha Gray added 16 points for the Tar Heels (15-3, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won for the 10th time in their last 11 games. Stephanie Mavunga had 10 points as North Carolina beat Clemson for the 20th time in the past 21 meetings.

The Tar Heels overcame an early 11-point deficit with a 25-4 run in the first half. DeShields scored 12 points during the spurt.

Her first field-goal attempt was a 3-pointer that tied it at 17 with 8:45 left in the first half. The Tar Heels never trailed again.

“I thought we settled into the game and the speed of the game,” said North Carolina associate head coach Andrew Calder, who is filling in for coach Sylvia Hatchell as she battles leukemia.

Nikki Dixon scored 21 points for Clemson (9-9, 1-3), which shot 39 percent from the floor. Charmaine Tay had 10 points.

“I felt like when North Carolina started to make their run and come back, we kind of folded a little bit,” Clemson coach Audra Smith said. “We kind of took a step back versus continuing to do the things that had gotten us the lead.”

North Carolina led 38-26 at halftime and then scored the first 10 points of the second half to pull away.

DeShields entered the game having made only 14 of 58 3-point attempts all season. But she went 4 for 8 from long range against the Tigers.

She showed no signs of being bothered by a heavy wrap protecting a broken bone in her left hand.

“It’s actually helped me,” DeShields said. “When I broke my hand, I started shooting better. It’s my guide hand, and I guess before I broke it that I was incorporating this hand into my shot, which was not allowing the ball to go in the right path. Now, it’s not even touching the ball barely.”

While DeShields sparked North Carolina’s offense, Clemson sputtered. The Tigers went 8½ minutes late in the first half with just one field goal.

It was a drastic change from the beginning, when Clemson shot 6 of 7 from the field to race out to a 13-2 lead.

But Dixon, who had seven points during the quick start, picked up her second foul less than five minutes into the game.

With Dixon on the bench, the Tar Heels got two layups from Mavunga as part of a 9-0 run to climb back into the game.

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