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Tar Heels stay perfect in ACC after dominating win over Seminoles

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Even with a 30-point lead, Erlana Larkins showed there is no let-up in the third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels as she crashed into press row in pursuit of a turnover.

Larkins had 18 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals to lead North Carolina to a 97-77 win over Florida State on Sunday to remain unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"As a team, we're just trying to work on execution and closing games when we're up," said Larkins, who had 18 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals. "And also, [we're] trying to keep Coach [Sylvia] Hatchell off our backs.

"She likes to say, 'Intensity for 40 minutes.' So it's good for her to see me with a 25-point lead, as a starter, diving across the table. I think other people feed off of that."

Hatchell still saw room for improvement for her Tar Heels.

"I thought at times we did some good things there, but we were a little bit fatigued," Hatchell said. "It's a good team effort. Everybody got to play a good bit."

Rashanda McCants added 18 points and Cetera DeGraffenreid contributed 15 for the Tar Heels (24-2, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who controlled the game after the Seminoles' Jacinta Monroe scored the first basket.

North Carolina went on a 13-0 run and cruised the rest of the way. The only suspense was a search for DeGraffenreid's contact lens, which she had dislodged late in the first half. With three teammates searching for it on the floor, DeGraffenreid found it in her eye. She took it out and, playing with one contact, hit the back end of a two-shot foul to help the Tar Heels take a 48-32 halftime lead.

With North Carolina holding an 85-55 lead with 6:24 left, Larkins dived for a ball and wiped out a table and chairs on press row. She emerged unharmed and wearing a sheepish grin. While Larkins appeared unscathed, some Tar Heels left the game banged up.

McCants left the game with a bruised shin and the Tar Heels' LaToya Pringle injured her hand. Hatchell didn't have an update on Pringle, other than she would be getting x-rays.

The large lead did allow Hatchell to give freshman backup point guard Italee Lucas more playing time to prepare her for stretch run in the ACC.

Tanae Davis-Cain led the Seminoles (15-10, 5-5) with 25 points. Florida State has been plagued by suspensions and injuries to its starters, but coach Sue Semrau said the team feels that it is ready for the remainder of the regular season.

"Now we know what we have," Semrau said. "We've known for the last five or six games. We're really coming together. You know, it's tough to be a team that's only been together for five or six games and go on the road in the ACC."