Purdue 72

(31-6, 16-2 Big Ten)

North Carolina 84

(34-3, 12-3 ACC)

    9:00 PM ET, March 27, 2007

    1 2 T
    PUR 28 4472
    UNC 35 4984

    Top Performers

    Purdue: K. Gearlds 28 Pts, 7 Reb

    North Carolina: E. Larkins 29 Pts, 10 Reb

    UNC hoping for the right Latta-tude against Purdue

    DALLAS (AP) -- Only 5-foot-6, North Carolina point guard Ivory Latta can stack up her list of accomplishments eye-high.

    The "honors and recognitions" section in the Tar Heels' postseason media guide has 17 entries for this season alone, filled with things like first-team all-ACC, conference tournament MVP and all the player of the year awards for which she's been named a finalist.

    Another section of the booklet details her three school records, a list that includes the biggest of all, most career points.

    How about those 33 wins she's led UNC to this season? Tied for the most in school history.

    Yet Latta lacks the one thing she wants most: A national championship.

    Her Tar Heels have come agonizingly close the last two years, reaching the Final Four when she was a junior and the regional finals when she was a sophomore. It eases the pain knowing that UNC was sent home by the eventual national champs both times -- but only a little.

    A senior now, Latta has no more next years. To truly leave her mark on the program, she needs to lead top-seeded North Carolina (33-3) past second-seeded Purdue (31-5) in the finals of the Dallas Regional on Tuesday night to seal another trip to the Final Four, then go to Cleveland next weekend and finish the job.

    "I definitely believe that's the only thing missing in my resume," she said Monday. "We had our little meetings before the season and I said, `Look, I'm going to do whatever it takes to get back to the Final Four, whether it's scoring, defense, rebounding, assists. Whatever it takes."

    Latta showed that attitude in the Final Four game against Maryland last year, overcoming an early knee injury to score 14 points. She had surgery a few weeks later and has come back as good as ever -- stronger, too, having put in extra time in the gym.

    Although her points are down, her assists are up, all part of her "whatever it takes" vow. Another aspect is being more of a leader to her younger teammates, something she admits to not having done enough in previous years.

    "My main thing is having high energy at all times," she said, smiling and shifting in her chair, her motor seemingly already revving up. "If somebody is having a bad day, I make sure I make them smile, get them right so they can practice."

    Asked if she's become a big sister to her teammates, Latta laughed and said she's more of a "little, big sister."

    The short jokes continued when talk turned to the WNBA draft.

    "Last year, I was 5-6. Then I had my surgery and I think it put a little growth spurt in there," she said, trying to keep a straight face. "I measured myself and I was 5-7 this year. I said, `Wow! I'm 5-7.'

    Realizing she wasn't getting anyone to bite, Latta fessed up: "If they want, I can be 5-8. But, yeah, to be honest, 5-6."

    The Boilermakers learned how tough Latta is to stop in last year's regional semifinals.

    Their game was tied at 68 when Latta saw that her first option -- passing to Erlana Larkins -- wouldn't work, so she came around a screen from Camille Little and found room to drive the lane. Her floating layup banked in with 2.8 seconds left, then she crumpled to the ground in pain because of leg cramps.

    Purdue star Katie Gearlds missed a 3-pointer before the buzzer and has thought about that loss ever since.

    Gearlds and fellow senior Erin Lawless have been following North Carolina all tournament, eager for a chance at revenge. Some of that eagerness may have spilled over in practice Monday, when Lawless' elbow planted a colorful bruise under Gearlds' right eye.

    "It's my first ever," Gearlds said. "I'm proud."

    "I didn't do it on purpose," Loveless said.

    "So she says," Gearlds muttered.

    Gearlds is averaging 24.8 points over her last eight games, and scored 30 in a regional semifinals victory over Georgia. The Boilermakers were glad to have it after losing starting guard Jodi Howell to a shoulder injury early in the second half.

    Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said Monday that Lakisha Freeman will start in place of Howell. Versyp said it was doubtful that Howell, who averages 7 points per game, will play.

    "She is moving it pretty well," Versyp said, "but right now we won't be playing with her."


    Gameday Matchup

    Avg Points69.385.5
    Avg Points Allowed53.555.1
    Home Record16-221-1
    Road Record12-39-2
    Current StreakW7W3

    School Info

    Conference Big Ten ACC
    Nickname Boilermakers Tar Heels
    Type Public Public


    » Mar 27, 2007 @UNC 84, PUR 72Recap | Box Score

    Starting Lineup

    PUR (PPG)
    UNC (PPG)
    NA  E. Lawless NA  L. Pringle
    F  L. Wisdom-Hylton G  R. Mccants
    F  L. Freeman NA  E. Larkins
    G  F. Malone NA  C. Little
    NA  K. Gearlds NA  I. Latta