North Carolina men's basketball coach Bill Guthridge yesterday reinstated Gs Ed Cota and Terrence Newby, charged with misdemeanor assault following a Halloween brawl.

Newby said he and Cota were trying to break up a fight involving their friends and another group. Cota said he grabbed a man's pants leg only in an attempt to stop the fight.

* GETTING A BREAK: North Carolina's football team, headed to its worst season in a decade, just needed a game against North Carolina State to break out of the doldrums.

The Tar Heels beat the Wolfpack for the seventh straight time, getting a touchdown pass from fourth-string quarterback Domonique Williams, a field goal by Josh McGee and a defensive stand in the final minute for a 10-6 victory in Charlotte.

The host Tar Heels limited Jamie Barnette, the ACC's No. 2 career passer, to 216 yards.

The loss by the Wolfpack (6-5, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) means it will have to beat No. 24 East Carolina on the road next Saturday to qualify for a bowl game.

North Carolina (2-8, 1-6) had lost seven in a row.

* HURTING: The Mount St. Mary's men's basketball team has lost C Melvin Whitaker for at least two months, and possibly the season, with a fractured ankle. . . . Utah F Hanno Mottola will be out six weeks with a torn knee ligament.