7:30 PM ET, December 5, 2005
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- There's not much that can silence Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma.Seventh-ranked North Carolina found a way, beating the eighth-ranked Huskies 77-54 for UConn's worst home loss in the coach's 21 seasons on Monday night."I'm sitting here speechless. And that's not me," Auriemma said. "I feel at the end of the game, I'm powerless. I can't instruct. I can't coach. I can't direct. I'm used to being able to do certain things. Our guys come out on the floor and play a certain way. And none of that is happening right now."Ivory Latta led the Tar Heels (8-0) with 21 points and five steals. When she fired up her final shot -- an off-balance 3-pointer -- the junior guard stumbled into the courtside press table."I can't believe that went in," she told the reporters.She shouldn't have been so surprised.There was little that Latta and the seventh-ranked Tar Heels did that went wrong Monday night. Auriemma, meanwhile, knew he was in for a long night, almost from the start."We get the opening tap, three guys are not where they're supposed to be and we run the damn thing anyway to the wrong place," he said. "It just went downhill from there."The Tar Heels (8-0) were nearly unstoppable on offense, extending their lead to 33 points and shutting down the Huskies (6-1) for long stretches.When Latta left the game with 2:22 remaining, the speedy guard received a round of applause from UConn fans that remained."I was excited by that," Latta said. "It was a great honor."The loss was the earliest home setback for the five-time NCAA champs in 15 years. Before Monday, the worst home loss in Auriemma's 21 years at UConn was a 20-point defeat to Villanova in 1986.Nearly 14,000 turned out to watch the women's edition of the Jimmy V Classic, a cancer research fund-raiser in honor of Jim Valvano, the late North Carolina State coach. The game was a rematch of last year's Jimmy V classic in Raleigh, which was won by the Heels 71-65.North Carolina gave the UConn fans little to cheer as its relentless defense accounted for five steals and seven blocks and held the Huskies to 35 percent shooting. The Tar Heels also scored 23 points off UConn turnovers."I think it shows that our team can do anything," Latta said. "We had to get real focused for this game."With Latta running the point, the Tar Heels seemed to score at will as their up-tempo attack ran into little interference."We go up and down the court and try to make things exciting," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We play the same no matter what team we are playing. It takes people out of their rhythm and flow of their offense."La'Tangela Atkinson finished with 18 points for North Carolina, and Camille Little added 17. Atkinson and Little combined for 17 rebounds and the Tar Heels outrebounded UConn 42-33. Erlana Larkins finished with three blocks.Ann Strother finished with 13 points and was the only UConn player to reach double digits."We knew what they were going to be like. We knew their style of basketball," Strother said. "I guess the way we responded was what was surprising."The Tar Heels had five steals and five blocks in the first period, and when they weren't swiping the ball, they were swiping at it, disrupting just about everything the Huskies tried to run.North Carolina scored 15 points off turnovers in the opening half.The Huskies didn't have an answer for Latta, who had 10 points in the first half.The Tar Heels silenced the crowd with an early 21-1 run. UConn went nearly 11 minutes without a field goal and nine minutes without a point. By the time Christina DeWitt's layup ended the run, the Tar Heels' lead was at 19 points, 28-9, with just under 8 minutes left in the half.The Huskies recovered and put together a 14-7 to cut their deficit to 35-23 at the break. They would get no closer the rest of the way.UConn forward Barbara Turner tried to make sense of the lopsided loss that she said "can make us better or make us worse.""If we don't come back with a sense of fire or passion, it could determine our season," she said. "It looked like we never practiced. We have to make ourselves do every single thing that coach Auriemma said."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-54 (.481)||22-54 (.407)|
|3P Made-Attempted||8-18 (.444)||5-16 (.313)|
|FT Made-Attempted||17-20 (.850)||5-17 (.294)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|