McCants' career-best 27 points, 14 boards carry Tar Heels

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Rashanda McCants had career highs of 27 points and 14 rebounds to lead North Carolina to a 97-72 victory over Syracuse in the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Sunday.

"I was surprised," McCants said. "I wasn't expecting anything like that."

At least one of her teammates for North Carolina (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) knew McCants was capable of this type of performance.

"Don't be surprised," said Erlana Larkins, who added 15 points for the Tar Heels. "She's a great shooter. She's got game. We all know that."

Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman was not surprised by McCants.

"I'm surprised she ended up with only 27," Hillsman said.

McCants, who led five players in double figures, scored 20 points by the half as North Carolina (5-0) ran up a 54-29 lead at the break. She finished the game 7-for-15 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and 9-for-13 at the line.

LaToya Pringle had 11 for North Carolina. Heather Claytor and Jessica Breland each had 10.

North Carolina hit just 15 of 40 second-half shots from the field, and 31 of 73 for the game. But the Tar Heels used a 54-46 rebounding edge, including 30-19 in the second half, to hold Syracuse. The Orange's Fantasia Goodwin and Vionca Murray each fouled out of the physical game, which featured 52 fouls.

Syracuse (1-1), coming off a win Saturday over Coppin State, was led by Erica Morrow's 17 points. Vaida Sipaviciute had 12 points and Chandrea Jones 10.

The Orange led 2-0 then went scoreless on 18 of their next 24 possessions. McCants hit two 3-pointers and scored 13 points as North Carolina jumped out to a 19-7 lead in the opening 6:15.

Syracuse never got closer than 57-34 in the second half. The Tar Heels pulled away to lead by 97-62 before missing their last eight shots.