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Lucas helps No. 12 Tar Heels beat NC State 81-69

Jan 26, 2010 - 3:04 AM By AARON BEARD AP Basketball Writer

RALEIGH, N.C.(AP) -- Italee Lucas scored 28 of her career-high 33 points in the second half and No. 12 North Carolina rallied to beat North Carolina State 81-69 on Monday night.

Freshman reserve Waltiea Rolle added 12 points for the Tar Heels (16-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who trailed by nine midway through the second half. North Carolina has won 18 of 20 meetings in the series, including the past three at N.C. State's Reynolds Coliseum.

It was the first rivalry game for Kellie Harper at N.C. State, where she took on the unenviable challenge of being the successor to Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow. Brittany Strachan scored 16 points for the Wolfpack (12-8, 2-3), but they couldn't find a way to slow Lucas once she got rolling.

Lucas had five points despite going 0 for 5 from the field in the first half, but went 10 for 17 after the break with a pair of 3-pointers.

Rolle proved pretty valuable too, anchoring the paint when starter Chay Shegog got into foul trouble. The 6-foot-6 rookie used her long frame to pull down eight rebounds, block seven shots and alter countless more in the decisive minutes.

N.C. State led 29-28 after a first half in which both teams shot 11 for 35 (31 percent), then appeared to gain control when it built a 51-42 lead on a 3-pointer from Emili Tasler at the 12-minute mark.

But by that point, Lucas was warmed up and ready to take over.

She answered Tasler's 3 with a long one of her own. Then, after a stickback score from Rolle, Lucas hit a scooping shot in the lane followed by another 3 that cut the Wolfpack's lead to 54-52. A few minutes later, Lucas took a pass near the basket and hit a reverse layup over Sharnise Beal for a 58-57 lead with 8:07 left, the Tar Heels' first lead of the second half.

Lucas bested her previous career high of 29 points with a pair of free throws with 6:17 left, ending a run in which she scored 18 of 24 points for the Tar Heels to turn a 46-40 deficit into a 64-60 lead.

Rolle was the only other Tar Heel to score during that run until Cetera DeGraffenreid banked in a shot in the lane with 5:19 left. Then, after two free throws from Rolle, She'la White took a feed from Lucas and buried a contested 3-pointer in the far corner to give North Carolina a 71-62 lead with 3:17 left.

N.C. State got no closer than six points the rest of the way, with the Tar Heels pulling away in the final minute thanks in part to their 28-for-35 foul shooting on the night.