Tar Heels close with 16-5 run

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Connecticut missed shots, made turnovers and struggled at the free-throw line.

None of the mistakes caught coach Geno Auriemma off-guard.

"I think the game played out probably the way I thought it would play out," he said. "I can't say that I'm really, really that surprised."

North Carolina (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) closed with a 16-5 run to upset the Huskies 71-65 on Sunday in the Jimmy V Women's Classic, the three-time defending national champions' earliest loss since 1995.

Ivory Latta pulled up for a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than two minutes left for North Carolina (2-0).

"This is a big win, but it's so early in the season," Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "Things change between now and March, but this is certainly a big one for us."

No. 4 UConn (1-1) was without freshman point guard Ketia Swanier for most of the second half -- she left with a concussion after getting elbowed by a teammate -- and finished with 28 turnovers.

"I think it was our fault," Huskies guard Ann Strother said. "We just gave the ball away."

The Huskies hadn't dropped a game this early since losing their opener nine years ago.

Latta finished with 16 points and Erlana Larkins had 14 points for UNC, and Camille Little added 13. Strother led UConn with 17 points and Barb Turner had 14.

The Huskies perennially restock their roster, and this offseason they lost superstar Diana Taurasi and point guard Maria Conlon to graduation. That made it tougher to overcome when Swanier left in the first half. She ran past teammate Jessica Moore, who inadvertently swung an elbow that hit Swanier in the forehead.

Swanier spent the rest of the game on the sideline, with an ice pack covering the bruise, and the Huskies clearly missed her down the stretch.

"I really thought their quickness and athletic ability, and some of their aggressiveness inside, I thought we were going to have a little trouble," Auriemma said. "It's not an easy place to put young players in."

UConn led 59-55 after a jumper by Nicole Wolff with about 4½ minutes left, taking advantage of two quick turnovers by the Tar Heels. Latta, a speedy 5-6 point guard, got inside for a basket, then La'Tangela Atkinson made two free throws to bring North Carolina within one.

After Moore traveled, Latta pushed the ball up and made a 3 over Wolff with 1:53 remaining, giving the Tar Heels the lead for good.

"I saw her stumbling back, and I knew it was a good time to pull up," Latta said. "I knew I'd made it when it left my hand."

The Huskies missed two straight shots and had another turnover, while North Carolina went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line to close it out.

UConn had four turnovers and missed three free-throw tries in the final four minutes. The Tar Heels finished 17-for-19 from the line.

"If we had come down here and won by 25 points, I would have been shocked," Auriemma said. "The right team deserved to win."

The Tar Heels were picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, the first time since 1999 a team other than Duke was predicted to win the league. Now they beat powerful Connecticut for the first time since the 1994 NCAA Tournament, with the help of a pair of sophomores and a freshman.

"We played the freshmen last year and let them get a lot of experience under their belts, and they learned a lot," Hatchell said. "I just think we have a good team with great balance and great chemistry."