Nov. 27, 2004
LAS VEGAS (AP) - The North Carolina Tar Heels put their lackluster first half behind them. Then they did the same to Villanova.
After scoring just 25 points in the first half, the No. 5 Tar Heels went on a 13-2 run to start the second and survived a late surge by No. 24 Villanova for a 63-56 victory in the Lady Rebel Shootout on Saturday.
"They told us to just forget about the first half," said Camille Little, who scored 13 points for North Carolina (4-0). "We started off slow, but we knew it was a new game in the second half."
Nikita Bell scored five straight points to open the second half, and the Tar Heels held Villanova (2-1) to just six points over nine minutes.
"We just had to settle down and play our game," Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We got going in the second half, but if you look at the shot chart, we had plenty of chances on the inside in the first half."
North Carolina advanced to Sunday's championship and will face the winner of UNLV-Texas-Arlington. Villanova will play the loser in the consolation game.
Liad Suez led all scorers with 16 points and added eight assists to keep the Wildcats close.
Suez keyed a late rally with a pair of 3-pointers, trimming a 13-point deficit to 58-52 with 1:28 to play. But she didn't get much help from her teammates - Kate Dessart Mager (14) was the only other Villanova player in double figures and the Wildcats shot just 35 percent.
"We have to make jump shots to be successful," Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. "If we don't, you see what happens."
North Carolina went 7-of-9 from the free throw line down the stretch to secure the victory and finished 14-of-18.
Erlana Larkins added 12 points for North Carolina, while Bell finished with nine and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The first half featured six lead changes and North Carolina trailed 26-25 at halftime. But the seventh lead change was the last, after a jumper by Bell on the Tar Heels' first possession of the second half.
"We just had to calm down and not get frustrated," Little said. "We knew we could take over the game in the second half."