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North Carolina rallies past Hurricanes

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Ivory Latta scored 19 points and hit the
go-ahead 3-pointer Saturday to help North Carolina (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today; No. 4 AP)
avoid an upset with a 64-57 win over Miami in the Atlantic Coast
Conference tournament quarterfinals.
Nikita Bell added 13 points and eight rebounds for the
top-seeded Tar Heels (25-3), who trailed most of the way before
making a late run to reach Sunday's semifinals.
Tamara James had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the ninth-seeded
Hurricanes (13-16), who led by as many as 10 points in the first
half and held a three-point edge with 2½ minutes to play.
The Tar Heels -- the top seed for the first time in eight years --
have high hopes of winning their first tournament title since 1998.
But they very nearly saw those dreams end abruptly against a team
they beat by 31 points in the regular season.
They shot just 29 percent and went 18-for-28 at the line,
struggling to overcome a determined effort by the Hurricanes.
North Carolina trailed 55-52 late before going on a 9-0 run, led
by Latta and Bell.
First Latta hit two free throws to cut the deficit to one point,
then hit a 3-pointer off a feed from Bell for a 57-55 lead with
2:08 left.
Bell then came up with two big plays. With North Carolina
struggling much of the day against Miami's zone defense, Bell
flashed to the top of the key to catch the ball, then made a
spinning move to the basket for a 59-55 lead with 1:33 left.
After a Miami timeout, Bell stole a pass near midcourt for a
breakaway attempt. She missed the layup, but Camille Little got the
rebound and picked up the fifth foul on James with 1:19 left.
Little closed the run with two free throws, giving the Tar Heels
a 61-55 edge.
Miami advanced to the quarterfinals with a 60-58 win over
Georgia Tech, when James caught a halfcourt heave and banked in a
shot at the buzzer. Despite playing that tough game only 24 hours
earlier, the Hurricanes showed so signs of fatigue early and jumped
to the lead.
Their zone defense shut down Erlana Larkins and the Tar Heels'
inside game, though North Carolina certainly didn't help itself
with 10 turnovers in the first eight minutes.
The Tar Heels also missed their first 10 shots, going without a
field goal for the game's first seven minutes. James and Miami took
advantage, taking a 16-6 lead on a 3-pointer from Katie Hayek
midway through the half.
The Tar Heels, who came in averaging 80 points a game, didn't
take their first lead until Larkins completed a three-point play to
make it 46-45 with 9:26 left. Miami responded with a run to push
the lead back to six, but couldn't hold off the Tar Heels down the
stretch.