7:00 PM ET, February 21, 2008
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- Erlana Larkins pleased dozens of family and friends on her homecoming trip Thursday.Larkins, from neighboring Riviera Beach, Fla., scored 18 points to lead No. 2 North Carolina to a 79-61 victory over Miami."I just like to see my family," said Larkins, who estimated 40 family and friends in the stands. "I don't think it had any effect on the game. Playing Miami was like playing any other game. But it was still good to see them because I come home only once a year."Larkins finished 7-for-8 from the field and converted all four of her free-throw attempts.She could have taken more shots but she was double-teamed quite a bit, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.Rashanda McCants finished with 17 points and Rebecca Gray scored a career-high 15 points as the Tar Heels wore down the Hurricanes with two first-half runs.North Carolina (25-2, 12-0) has won eight straight and 16 of its past 17. Maurita Reid scored 18 points to lead Miami (9-17, 2-9)."It was a good team effort," Hatchell said. "We're just glad to get another ACC win on the road."The Hurricanes have lost eight of their past nine. Trailing 12-9, the Tar Heels scored 16 unanswered points in a span of 5:50 in the first half and took the lead for good. McCants scored eight points during the spurt."We started out really slow, our intensity wasn't what it needed to be," Hatchell said. "But we made some key substitutions. We got some fresh people in there and got some good transition."Jessica Breland's short jumper with 7:12 remaining in the half capped the run. Reid hit three 3-pointers in the next 1:50 as the Hurricanes cut North Carolina's lead to 27-21. Damisha Moore's field goal with 3:50 left again cut North Carolina's lead to six at 29-23.But the Tar Heels outscored the Hurricanes 18-5 the rest of the half, behind Gray's eight points, including two 3-pointers."They're a wonderful team, they share the ball so well," Miami coach Katie Meier said.McCants' jumper with 7:05 remaining in the second half gave North Carolina its biggest lead at 75-49 before Miami finished the game on a 12-4 run.Miami played without senior center Carla Williams, who had started 22 of the team's 25 games. Meier suspended Williams and reserve freshman center Kathryn Hester for a violation of team rules.Williams was suspended for the North Carolina game while Hester's suspension is indefinite, according to a statement from the Miami sports information office.Earlier in the week, Hurricanes senior guard Albrey Grimsley quit the team."The team really responded to adversity and I was very proud of that," Meier said.
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