7:00 PM ET, January 6, 2005
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina sure looked ready for its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule Thursday night.
Erlana Larkins scored 15 points and the Tar Heels broke the school record for fewest points allowed in a 79-29 victory over Winthrop.
Camille Little and Ivory Latta each added 10 points for the Tar Heels (12-1), who led by 40 points at halftime in their final tuneup before opening league play at Maryland on Sunday.
North Carolina (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) broke the school record for fewest points allowed of 31 set against Davidson in February 1975.
The Tar Heels have won five straight games since losing at Penn State, and head into the league slate as the preseason pick to win the ACC. In the current winning streak, the Tar Heels have dominated defensively, holding opponents to an average of 45 points on 32-percent shooting.
Winthrop committed 31 turnovers, and had 13 field goals on 28-percent shooting. But coach Sylvia Hatchell wouldn't say that Thursday's game was the Tar Heels' best defensive effort of the season.
"We've had moments out there where we've really played well defensively," she said of the nonconference schedule, which included a win against Connecticut in November.
Jessica Dukes scored 16 points for the Eagles (2-11), who were so overwhelmed by the Tar Heels' aggressive defense that coach Bud Childers said his team could have best prepared by scrimmaging the Winthrop men's team.
"They're so long out there that it makes it hard to do the things that any team wants to do," Childers said. "They look like they've certainly got the material here to compete for it all in March and April."
North Carolina was coming off a 79-55 win over Old Dominion, a game that likely did more to prepare North Carolina for conference play than this one. The Tar Heels jumped all over the Eagles, taking a 48-8 halftime lead.
Winthrop committed 20 first-half turnovers, shot 4-for-16 from the floor and went the final 7 minutes of the half without a point.
The Tar Heels, who got plenty of transition baskets off those turnovers, scored the final 19 points of the half to increase their lead.
Little, last year's ACC rookie of the year, scored all 10 of her points in the first half. She played just six minutes after halftime and 15 for the game as Hatchell substituted liberally throughout the game.
Little said she felt she had not played well offensively of late, so she came to the game about an hour early to get in some extra shooting. It paid off when she scored eight points in the first 3 minutes.
She opened with a 3-pointer and added a putback basket. Then, after one of the Tar Heels' 14 first-half steals, Latta found a trailing Little for a layup and the ensuing free throw that gave the Tar Heels a 12-4 lead.
"Defensively I've been fine," Little said. "Offensively I was just thinking that the ACC's coming up and I was trying to focus on doing what I'm expected to do."
Nikita Bell's jumper in the lane on the next possession pushed the lead to 10 about 30 seconds later, starting a 9-0 burst that made it 21-4 with 13:26 left in the half.