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UNC hands Georgia Tech fifth straight loss

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell knew exactly what Georgia Tech was doing that was causing her Tar Heels so much trouble.

It was the same game North Carolina (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) routinely plays: Outrebounding opponents and forcing turnovers that lead to easy baskets.

In a slowed-down first half, Georgia Tech scored its first 17 points either in the lane or at the free-throw line. Meanwhile, North Carolina had 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes and fell behind 17-13.

"We were walking the ball upcourt, and any defense is going to be better when you let them get set," Hatchell said after the Tar Heels' 85-56 victory. "We are very athletic, but our athleticism is only an advantage when we are moving."

Stepping up their pressure in the last seven minutes of the half, North Carolina held Georgia Tech to 2-for-8 shooting and forced four turnovers during a 13-0 run that the Tar Heels used to take the lead for good.

North Carolina (17-0, 4-0 ACC) led 32-25 at halftime and then scored the first 10 points of the second half to pull away.

"Coach [Hatchell] asked us for more intensity at halftime," La'Tangela Atkinson said. "We came out in the second half and gave her what she wanted."

Ivory Latta had four turnovers and a single assist while playing just 12 minutes in the first half. She played most of the second until North Carolina cleared its bench and she finished with 17 points and four assists.

"Ivory Latta being back in the game was a huge factor," Georgia Tech's MaChelle Joseph said. "Obviously, they came out a little more aggressive on defense in the second half."

Erlana Larkins scored 22 points, going 14-for-14 at the free-throw line. Atkinson added 10 points with six assists and four steals as North Carolina beat Georgia Tech (11-6, 0-4) for the seventh straight time.

"The turnovers they converted into points were the difference," Joseph said. "It's hard to defend breakaway layups off turnovers at midcourt."

North Carolina committed just five turnovers in the second half and ended up with 17. Georgia Tech had 27. Janie Mitchell and Jill Ingram each scored 12 points to lead Georgia Tech, which lost its fifth straight.

Georgia Tech outrebounded North Carolina 39-35. Old Dominion was the only other team this season to beat the Tar Heels on the boards.

"The first half and the second half were very different," Hatchell said. "We weren't rebounding and weren't playing very good defense. Once we started playing Carolina basketball we were OK."

North Carolina moved within one win of tying its best start ever. The Tar Heels won their first 18 games to open the 1994-95 season before losing at Duke.