2:00 PM ET, January 22, 2006
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Alex Miller knows she must focus on defense when coming off the bench for North Carolina (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP)."That's what I'm best at," she said.She can score on occasion, too. The Tar Heels needed some of that down the stretch.Erlana Larkins had 22 points for the second straight game, Miller made consecutive baskets in a span of 14 seconds and North Carolina tied the best start in school history with a 68-51 victory over Florida State on Sunday.Ivory Latta added 18 points while LaToya Pringle had 11 rebounds and four blocks for the Tar Heels (18-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who last won their first 18 games in 1994-95. This one didn't come easily, as the Seminoles (11-7, 2-3) held North Carolina to its lowest point total at home this season.The 17-point margin also was the smallest at Carmichael Auditorium."A typical ACC game at this time of year," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.With Miller on the floor down the stretch, the Tar Heels finally find their rhythm and pulled away. Four of her seven points came during a 18-4 run to close it out, and she converted her lone steal of the game into an easy layup during her personal spurt."I just came in and played defense," Miller said. "I got their point guard a little disturbed, and I had to do what I had to do."Alicia Gladden had 19 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for the Seminoles, and teammate Britany Miller finished with 12 points. But they missed 12 of their final 14 shots and made only two from outside the lane in the second half.A 3-for-12 effort at the free throw line didn't help, either."Sylvia's got a very special team this year, there's just so much depth," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. "I thought my two centers did a nice job on Erlana, she's just got a lot of power to her. And a lot of skill to go with that power."Yet when Gladden swished a 3-pointer midway through the second half, Florida State trailed 50-47. At the final media timeout with 3:37 left, it was 55-49. That's when the Tar Heels took over.Following a turnover by LaQuinta Neely, Larkins worked free down low to score off an assist from Camille Little, and Miller had her two clutch baskets to put them ahead by 12 points."They were trying to rush us, and a lot of times, we just turned it over," Gladden said. "We need to play the whole 40 minutes to get a win against a team like that."The Seminoles missed 3s on three consecutive possessions, and North Carolina finished it off with Latta's whirling leaner in the lane in the final 30 seconds. She played the entire game for the second time this season, but failed to record an assist for the first time.Latta also had four of her team's 19 turnovers, and the Tar Heels were outrebounded 44-38."I think the biggest thing was the rebounding," Hatchell said. "I can live with everything else out there. We'll straighten that out."
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