Latta leads UNC with 24 points

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Ivory Latta's shot was falling and Camille Little took care of the defense. North Carolina needed little else against Miami on Monday.

Latta scored 17 of her 24 points in the first half and Little shut down Miami's Tamara James to lift the Tar Heels (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) past the Hurricanes 83-52.

Little finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for the Tar Heels (14-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), but her defense against the nation's leading scorer was the highlight of an easy league win.

James came in averaging 24.5 points per game but missed her first eight shots and finished with just 12. She didn't score until early in the second half, when her team was down 28 points.

"I told (Little), 'I just want you to play defense and rebound today, and let the offense come to you,'" North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I think her concentrating on that helped her relax a little more and play better offensively."

With James misfiring, Miami (8-8, 0-3) shot just 8-for-32 in the first half. North Carolina shot 59 percent to build a 25-point lead at the break and led by as many as 36 points late.

Little, a 6-foot-1 forward, used her long arms and mobility to give James trouble all day.

"I just wanted to be there whenever she had the ball," Little said. "Just make sure I was in her face when she got the ball and couldn't go anywhere."

James didn't score her first basket until a transition layup that made it 53-27 with 14:48 left. She finished 4-for-15 from the floor, including 0-for-6 from the 3-point arc.

"They were doubling when I caught the ball," James said. "It didn't bother me that I didn't score that much. It's just the other players have to knock down shots because they're going to get opportunities."

Latta certainly got the Tar Heels rolling on the offensive end, going 10-for-16 from the field and hitting four 3-pointers.

Not everything went completely smooth for the sophomore. She winced when she saw her eight turnovers on the box score, and she missed her only free-throw attempt, stopping a string of 18 straight.

But the 5-6 point guard got plenty of open looks by constantly moving after she gave up the ball.

"All that goes to my teammates," said Latta, who had seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. "They were just finding me and I was spotting up."

Latta got plenty of help early from freshman Erlana Larkins, who scored nine of North Carolina's first 11 points and had three assists in the first 5½ minutes. She finished with 15 points despite twisting her right ankle, which she injured in Friday's win against North Carolina State, late in the first half.

Latta scored 13 consecutive points early to give the Tar Heels a double-digit margin. She made a pair of 3-pointers off passes from Larkins and closed her spurt with a 3 from the left corner that gave North Carolina a 24-10 lead with 11:56 left in the half.

On the other end, Little's defense locked down on James, holding her to a scoreless first half on 0-for-6 shooting.

Miami finished with 23 turnovers, which fueled several transition scores for the Tar Heels.

"We got rattled. We didn't execute and it really hurt the whole momentum of the game," Miami coach Ferne Labati said. "I think that Carolina is best when they're out there attacking and pressing."

Albrey Grimsley scored 15 points to lead Miami, which was playing its first ACC road game.