by The Associated Press
UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Marcus Paige scored a career-high 26 points and Brice Johnson had another with 24 points to help No. 24 North Carolina bounce back from its first loss of the season with an 82-72 win over Richmond in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament.
The Tar Heels (3-1) trailed for much of the first half, before making a run that sent them into halftime with a three-point lead.
They were up 66-62 with just under 4 minutes to play when Richmond's Terry Allen picked up his fourth foul. Johnson hit a put-back that started the run that gave the Tar Heels control of the game. A Paige 3-pointer made it 71-62 and North Carolina held on down the stretch.
Cedrick Lindsay scored 29 points for Richmond. Kendall Anthony added 13.
North Carolina will play the winner of Saturday's second semifinal between No. 3 Louisville and Fairfield in Sunday's final.
Paige scored 16 of his points in the second half and was 6 of 9 from 3-point range. The rest of the Tar Heels were 0 for 4.
Johnson added 12 rebounds, giving the sophomore his first career double-double.
Richmond jumped out quickly scoring 10 of the games' first 12 points.
The Tar Heels chipped away, tying the game on a Johnson jumper midway through the first half, but they didn't take their first lead until just before intermission.
Johnson's emphatic block, and two-handed dunk at the other end sparked an 8-0 that gave UNC a 38-33 advantage early in the second half. They stretched that lead to seven early in the second half before Richmond (3-2) came back. Lindsay's runner in the lane tied the game at 51, and the teams were tied again at 56 on a 3-pointer by Anthony.
But another 3-pointer by Paige stopped the Spider's momentum.
Carolina was 26 of 37 from the free throw against Richmond after missing 26 free throws in last weekend's loss to Belmont. The teams combined for 50 fouls.
Richmond was coming off a 74-63 overtime win against Hofstra. The Spiders beat Belmont 69-61 on Nov. 11 in Richmond.
Carolina has now beaten Richmond in 15 of their 17 meetings. But the two teams hadn't played each other since 1997.