7:00 PM ET, January 4, 2007
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina got a needed jolt this week with a tougher-than-expected win at Georgia Tech. The result was another high-scoring romp against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.Ivory Latta scored 24 points, and LaToya Pringle added a career-high 22 Thursday night to lead the second-ranked Tar Heels to a 102-68 victory over Virginia Tech, marking the third 100-point game for the league's top offense and two-time defending champion.Camille Little scored 19 points for the Tar Heels (17-0, 2-0 ACC), who are scoring better than 90 points per game and have an average margin of victory of nearly 42 points on the season.Still -- odd as it sounds -- the Tar Heels needed this kind of performance after their conference opener against the Yellow Jackets. On Tuesday, North Carolina trailed at the break for the first time before coming back to beat Georgia Tech 69-57 on the road in its lowest scoring output of the season."I think it made us think a little bit more and refocus," coach Sylvia Hatchell said.The result was a performance that looked much more like Hatchell's vintage never-stop-running Tar Heels. They shot 56 percent -- including 7-for-14 from 3-point range -- and dominated the boards after the break to beat the Hokies (10-6, 1-1) for the sixth straight time.Latta went 9-for-13 from the field and 4-for-7 from 3-point range for a season-high scoring output, a strong bounceback effort after she went just 4-for-18 against Georgia Tech."We started off really, really slack [against Georgia Tech]," Latta said. "And Coach told us, 'Look, you've got to go out and be fired up and go after them,' and that's what we did."Pringle, a 6-foot-3 junior who came in averaging 9.3 points, also went 9-for-13 from the field and added nine rebounds with three blocks. She just missed tallying her fourth double-double in five games."My teammates have been getting me the ball," Pringle said. "They were trying to boost up my confidence to shoot the ball more and play a bigger role this year."Sophomore Rashanda McCants added 13 points for North Carolina, which had a 20-9 rebounding advantage after halftime -- which included nine offensive rebounds.The Tar Heels did all that despite a subpar offensive game from all-conference forward Erlana Larkins, who finished with four points on 2-for-11 shooting. But Larkins also tallied 10 rebounds, four assists and five steals.North Carolina's pressure defense forced the Hokies into 24 turnovers that led to 30 points for the Tar Heels. North Carolina finished with 16 steals.Kirby Copeland scored 17 points to lead Virginia Tech, which had won six of seven after a 4-4 start."Unfortunately tonight I don't think we did anything other than help Carolina maintain their incredible statistics," Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said. "It's just frustrating because I really don't think we gave them our very best game tonight."
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