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The Daily Tar Heel

Sooners Shoot Down Women's Basketball

"Our conference is so tough -- every game, every possession," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "And, normally, this time of the season when you have a game out of the conference, it's a breather because of the way the conference is."

But Hatchell and her Tar Heels got a rude introduction to perhaps the best league in the country Sunday, suffering a 94-77 defeat to No. 13 Oklahoma before 3,233 at Carmichael Auditorium.

Feeding off a 17-point second-half effort from guard LaNeishea Caufield, the Sooners put a contest that was competitive early out of reach. They also struck a blow for their conference in a game featured as part of the ACC/

Big 12 Challenge.

Forward LaQuanda Barksdale provided UNC (9-6) with 18 points and 14 rebounds but only four of those points and six of those rebounds came after the half.

The UNC backcourt tandem of Coretta Brown and Juana Brown, meanwhile, finished with a combined 29 points on 10-of-34 shooting.

The Tar Heels trailed by only eight points heading into the second half but a sluggish performance in the last 20 minutes ended any hopes of an upset.

"I guess it was a lack of concentration, and we came out really, really dead in the second half," Barksdale said.

Behind 45-37 at the end of the first stanza, the Tar Heels had few answers as the Sooners (13-4) slowly extended their lead.

Caufield scored eight of the Sooners' first 10 points after the break, but UNC managed to stay within nine with 14:20 left in the game.

However, consecutive 3-pointers from Oklahoma's Rosalind Ross and Sunny Hardeman preceded Jamie Talbert's layup. A Caufield putback then pushed the margin to 65-46 with 12:14 left.

UNC's Chrystal Baptist responded with two inside buckets sandwiched around a free throw, but the Sooners went on a 13-2 run during a 3:02 span to take a 79-55 lead with 8:05 left.

The lead would grow to as large as 26 points, and both teams emptied their benches with 1:45 remaining.

Aside from Caufield's 23 points and seven assists, the Sooners also received an offensive boost from Ross, who finished with 19 points.

Ross' 6-of-10 shooting included a

5-of-9 effort from behind the 3-point arc, establishing career-highs in treys made and attempted.

"I've been shooting a lot in a slump lately in my games," Ross said. "And I felt that if they're going to leave me open, I might as well shoot it."

Ross and her teammates found themselves open frequently from the perimeter even though the Tar Heels used man-to-man defense for much of the game.

The Sooners came in with a versatile offense that was averaging 83.3 points per game, but Hatchell was clearly dismayed by the letdown the Tar Heels experienced after the break.

"That's the time, the beginning of the second half, when we need more leadership," Hatchell said. "Instead of me having to call so many timeouts, we need somebody -- seniors and captains -- to step up and say, 'I'm going to make a difference,' instead of just letting them get on a roll.

"And we've had times this year when we've had that happen, but today we didn't."

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The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.