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Women| ACC tournament

Tar Heels, Blue Devils to meet in final

Jessica Breland, right, who scored 15, battles Virginia’s Enonge Stovall for a rebound in North Carolina’s victory.

Associated Press

Jessica Breland, right, who scored 15, battles Virginia’s Enonge Stovall for a rebound in North Carolina’s victory.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Add North Carolina making the women's ACC tournament final to the list of certainties, on par with death and taxes.

The top-seeded and second-ranked Tar Heels (29-2) will make their seventh consecutive appearance in the championship after Saturday's 80-65 rout of No.  4 seed Virginia.

North Carolina's opponent is Duke, a 74-63 winner over Maryland in Saturday's second semifinal.

The Tar Heels, whose only losses were at Tennessee and Connecticut, got 23 points and 10 rebounds from junior forward Rashanda McCants in easily handling the Cavaliers (23-9).

McCants' performance was even more impressive considering she was helped from the court in the first half after rolling her ankle.

"It hurt real bad, and it's taped up real tight right now," she said. "I said, 'Give me some medicine, and I will be back out there.' There were no thoughts of not coming back."

After sitting for nearly six minutes, McCants scored 11 of her 19 first-half points in the final 5:32 as the Tar Heels turned a one-point lead into a 40-31 edge at halftime.

"She was special today," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "They have so many weapons that you really have to pick your poison. She is the X factor."

And she had plenty of help. Fellow forwards Erlana Larkins and LaToya Pringle combined for 29 points, with Larkins — a first-team All-ACC selection three years running — adding 15 rebounds. And 6-foot-3 sophomore Jessica Breland scored 15 off the bench.

"She has a great touch," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said of Breland. "She gives us a lot of firepower off the bench, and she's just getting better and better."

Guard Monica Wright scored 31 on 13 of 20 shooting for the Cavaliers. But Virginia could not keep up as a 9-0 blitz in a three-minute span of the second half stretched a 58-50 deficit to 67-50 with 8:01 remaining.

"There's a reason they're the No.  2 team in the country," Ryan said.

The Tar Heels seek their fourth tournament title in a row.

NO.  12 DUKE, 74, NO.  5 MARYLAND 63: The third-seeded Blue Devils (23-8) used a 12-2 run in the second half to grab a double-digit lead, then held off a couple of challenges by the No.  2 seed Terrapins (30-3) down the stretch.

Wanisha Smith led Duke with 22 points and Joy Cheek added 16 and eight rebounds. Marissa Coleman paced the Terps with 20 points. Crystal Langhorne chipped in with 16 and 11 rebounds.

The Blue Devils lost to Maryland in their two regular-season meetings, and in the Tar Heels they'll face the same challenge: Duke lost those games by 17 and 31 points, the latter March 2.

"It's a nice opportunity for us," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said, "and it's appropriate. We've taken a couple of hits from them."

Tar Heels, Blue Devils to meet in final 03/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:32am]
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