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Originally published Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM

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North Carolina women beat Albany 59-54 in NCAAs

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored a career-high 30 points, and third-seed North Carolina squeezed past Albany 59-54 Sunday to stagger into the second round of the NCAA tournament.

AP Sports Writer

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NEWARK, Del. —

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored a career-high 30 points, and third-seed North Carolina squeezed past Albany 59-54 Sunday to stagger into the second round of the NCAA tournament.

North Carolina trailed 28-23 at halftime and 48-44 with just under 10 minutes left before rallying behind Ruffin-Pratt, who scored 17 of the Tar Heels' final 21 points - including two clinching free throws with 10.8 seconds left.

Waltiea Rolle had 14 points and 14 rebounds for North Carolina (29-6), which will next face sixth-seeded Delaware (31-3) on Tuesday night. Delaware advanced with a 66-53 win over West Virginia.

Megan Craig scored 12 points, and Ebone Henry and Lindsey Lowrie each had 11 for Albany (27-4), the American East champions. The 14th-seeded Great Danes came in with a 19-game winning streak.

North Carolina trailed 42-36 before Ruffin-Pratt scored six points in an 8-2 spree that tied it at 44 with just over 10 minutes left.

Albany wouldn't blink. After Shereesha Richards made one of two free throws, Henry was fouled while scoring on a pretty back-door play, then added the foul shot for a 48-44 lead.

Ruffin-Pratt then rattled off seven straight points to put the Tar Heels up 51-48, and although Albany had several chances to pull even, the Tar Heels never relinquished the lead.

It was 56-54 when Henry stepped out of bounds with 47 seconds left. Rolle made a free throw on the other end, and Ruffin-Pratt clinched it with two shots at the line after she missed a pair.

Ruffin-Pratt, a 5-foot-10 senior, went 10 for 24 from the field and 7 for 10 at the foul line. She made three 3-pointers.

Albany led by as many as seven points in the first half before settling for a 28-23 advantage at the break. The Great Danes limited North Carolina to 7-for-26 shooting from the floor and used their quickness to build a 24-15 rebounding edge - eight of which came on the offensive glass.

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