Larkins leads Tar Heels to 8th straight win

February 21, 2008 7:47:20 PM PST
Erlana Larkins scored 18 points to lead No. 2 North Carolina to a 79-61 victory over Miami on Thursday night. Rashanda McCants finished with 17 points and Rebecca Gray scored 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).

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.

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 advantage 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.

Miami played without senior center Carla Williams, who had started 22 of the team's 25 games. Coach Katie 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.