Tar Heels dismiss Owls 83-50, eye Georgia next
Posted: Tuesday March 21, 2000 08:44 AM
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) -- The North Carolina Tar Heels are peaking at the perfect time.
LaQuanda Barksdale scored seven of her 27 points during a decisive 15-0 first-half run Monday night as the Tar Heels overpowered upstart Rice 83-50 in a second-round NCAA West Regional game.
The Tar Heels (20-12), who have won eight of their last nine games, next face fourth-ranked Georgia in the round of 16 Saturday at Portland, Ore. The top-seeded Bulldogs (31-3) advanced with an 83-64 victory over Stanford.
North Carolina, seeded fifth, reached the third round for the seventh time in eight years. The Tar Heels won the national championship in 1994.
"There was a time when we were 12-11," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "This team's come a long way, I'm very proud of them. Our defense gets better each game, we're playing our best basketball."
Hatchell said her team will remain on the West Coast until the weekend.
"Georgia looked great," Hatchell said. "They've got to come across country. This is like home for us now."
Playing in its first NCAA tournament, Rice (22-12) lost for only the second time in 12 games. The 13th-seeded Lady Owls reached the second round by upsetting fourth-seeded UC Santa Barbara 67-64 Saturday night, snapping the ninth-ranked Gauchos' 26-game winning streak.
"We got beat by a better team," Rice coach Cristy McKinney said. "I'm a little disappointed in our play. Part of that was the fact that they have been here before.
"We started well, but then we got a little bug-eyed and didn't recover. We got good looks early and we didn't make the shots. This led to turnovers, they made a big run, we got impatient, then everything just snowballed."
A sellout crowd of 5,824 watched the first-round doubleheader at the Thunderdome. All tickets were sold for the second game, but only 1,528 attended, according to UCSB officials -- no surprise considering the host Gauchos weren't involved.
Nikki Teasley had 16 points and nine assists for the Tar Heels, and Barksdale had 10 rebounds. Marla Brumfield led Rice with 14 points, and Kim Smallwood added 11.
"Our mentality was to take nothing for granted at all," Teasley said, adding that the defensive effort was probably her team's best of the season.
Barksdale said her personal goal in the game was to play better defense.
"I thought I did OK in the first half, but it went down in the second half," she said. "Hopefully, I can pick it up next game."
Looking much sharper from the outside than Saturday night, when they needed to rally from an 11-point deficit to beat Maine 62-57, the Tar Heels never trailed in this game.
It was 8-8 when North Carolina took command, outscoring the Lady Owls 30-7, capped by the 15-0 run to make it 38-15.
Daneesh McIntosh's jumper with 21/2 minutes left in the half ended a Rice scoring drought of nearly seven minutes, and it was 47-22 at halftime. The Lady Owls committed 14 turnovers and made only 34.6 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes.
Rice's 22 points were the fewest scored by a Tar Heels opponent in the first half all season, and North Carolina's lead reached 31 points before two minutes had been played in the second half.
North Carolina's Jackie Higgins played despite spending time in the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital on Sunday night after eating crab legs and suffering an allergic reaction. She had 10 points and eight rebounds.