2:00 PM ET, January 21, 2007
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- With another Atlantic Coast Conference victory in hand, second-ranked North Carolina can start thinking about playing the defending national champions again.Ivory Latta scored 20 points and made six 3-pointers Sunday in the Tar Heels' 86-65 over North Carolina State, setting up a matchup with a Maryland team that has given North Carolina fits over the past two seasons.Camille Little had 19 points for the Tar Heels (22-0, 6-0 ACC), who remained one of the nation's last unbeaten teams -- along with top-ranked Duke.The Tar Heels have already beaten Tennessee and Connecticut at home, but things will get a lot tougher with the trip to College Park, Md. The Tar Heels have a week to prepare for the third-ranked Terrapins, who handed North Carolina its only two losses last season.Last year, the Tar Heels beat Maryland in the ACC tournament championship, but lost in overtime at home in the regular season and fell to the Terrapins in the Final Four. Dating to the 2004-05 season, the Tar Heels are 1-3 against Maryland and 84-3 against the rest of college basketball.And don't think the Tar Heels aren't aware of what's at stake, even as they remained focused enough to beat the Wolfpack (13-7, 2-3)."It's going to be an emotional game," said Latta, who cracked the 2,000-point mark for her career against N.C. State. "I'm telling you, we're going to be very hyped and ready for that game. As far as revenge, yeah, it's going to be in there. But we're going to be ready. I'm ready now. We're ready now."As has been the case for the past two seasons, the Tar Heels were just too much for their ACC opponent. Latta went 7-for-13 from the field and 6-for-9 from 3-point range against N.C. State, while Erlana Larkins added 16 points and 11 rebounds.The Wolfpack shot 45 percent behind Sasha Reaves' career-best 21 points on 8-for-8 shooting, but North Carolina forced 25 turnovers and converted them into 33 points with their aggressive defense."Credit to their defense, but we know what they're going to do when we come into each game. We just have to counter that," N.C. State interim coach Stephanie Glance said. "At times we did, at times we didn't and they capitalized on it. They really made us pay."N.C. State jumped to an early 16-9 lead and hung around for about 30 minutes before the Tar Heels put the game away with a 10-0 spurt midway through the second half.Latta gave the Tar Heels some breathing room with 11 first-half points, including a 3-pointer just before the horn for a 41-29 lead that made her the fifth player in school history with 2,000 points. She now has 2,010 points, moving her to fourth on the school's career list.The Wolfpack hung around, trailing 59-47 on a pair of free throws from Khadijah Whittington -- who didn't start for breaking a team rule -- midway through the second half. But that's when Latta and the Tar Heels took charge.Latta first drained a 3 from the right wing in transition after a turnover, then followed with another 3 to make it 65-47. Alex Miller closed the run with a pair of layups off turnovers, giving North Carolina a 69-47 lead with 10:32 left.At the other end, the Wolfpack committed six straight turnovers as the game slipped away.North Carolina also helped itself by getting to the foul line, hitting 13 of 16 after the break after attempting just four in the first half."They started out strong and we were struggling a little there in the first few minutes, but then we got going," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "In the first half, I didn't think we got it inside and were aggressive enough attacking them. ... We tried to do a better job of that in the second half, which we did."
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