SANTA BARBARA, California (Ticker) -- LaQuanda Barksdale scored 16 of her 23 points in the second half as fifth-seeded North Carolina overcame a sluggish start to rally past No. 12 Maine, 62-57, in the first round fo the NCAA Women's Tournament West Region.
Barksdale made 9-of-18 shots and pulled down 13 rebounds. She picked up the Lady Tar Heels, who played the first half much the same way they did the regular season -- without a sense of urgency.
The 1994 national champion, North Carolina was in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament until it won six of its last seven games, losing to 1999 finalist Duke in the ACC tournament title game.
Jackie Higgins scored 16 points and Nikki Teasley added 14 for the Tar Heels (19-12), which got a break with its second-round opponent. Subregional host Santa Barbara was upset by 13th seed Rice, which faces North Carolina on Monday.
Maine (20-11) received an at-large bid as the runner-up in the America East Conference but was not intimidated by its ACC foe. Having bounced Stanford in the first round last season and taken powerful Georgia to overtime earlier this season, the Black Bears rode the inside play of Katie Cassidy to a 24-20 halftime lead.
The Tar Heels never solved Cassidy, who scored 30 points, 15 in each half. She made 10-of-20 shots but her teammates hit just 10-of-35 and Maine finally succumbed to North Carolina's talent.
NC cut off Maine's offense at the source. Black Bears' point guard Amy Vachon came in with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 201-110 but handed out eight assists while committing seven of Maine's 19 turnovers.
Kristen McCormick scored nine points -- all on 3-pointers -- for the Black Bears, who fell to 1-8 against ACC foes.