7:00 PM ET, January 28, 2007
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- North Carolina waited 20 minutes to find someone who could put the ball in the basket with a measure of consistency.Ivory Latta happily assumed the role, and her sharp-shooting enabled the No. 2 Tar Heels to remain unbeaten and extract a measure of revenge against third-ranked Maryland.Latta scored 22 of her season-high 32 points in the second half Sunday night, leading North Carolina past the defending national champions 84-71.The sellout crowd of 17,950 was the largest to watch a women's basketball game in Atlantic Coast Conference history, surpassing the 17,243 that viewed the Terrapins' loss to Duke in February 2005. Maryland has hosted the top five crowds in ACC history.Most in attendance Sunday will remember the performance of Latta, a 5-foot-6 senior guard who sank four 3-pointers in the opening five minutes of the second half to give the Tar Heels a 55-35 lead."I definitely got into a groove because my teammates found me," Latta said. "I was confident I'd hit the shot."Latta went 3-for-8 in the first half, when the Tar Heels (23-0, 7-0) shot 34 percent in taking a 35-27 lead. She finished 9-for-18, including 6-for-10 beyond the arc, and was 8-for-8 at the foul line."She looked pretty darn good tonight," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.Erlana Larkins had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Camille Little scored 17 points for the Tar Heels, whose 23-game winning streak is longest in the nation. North Carolina and top-ranked Duke, which handed Maryland its other defeat this season, are the lone remaining unbeaten teams in the nation.North Carolina lost only two games last season -- both to Maryland. The first loss came in overtime during the regular season, and the second came in the semifinals of the Final Four."We just tried to play our game and stay focused," Latta said.Shay Doron led Maryland (21-2, 5-2) with 19 points and Crystal Langhorne added 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Terps committed 21 turnovers and shot 39 percent."We felt like if we pressured them with different looks, we could force them into turnovers," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I guess it worked."The Terrapins waited too long to match the intensity of their enthusiastic fans. Maryland fell behind with five minutes elapsed and never caught up, crumbling under a series of turnovers and missed shots."For 30 of the 40 minutes, we were on the back of our heels, just making soft passes and not displaying the type of confidence we usually have on the offensive end," Frese said. "Anxiousness, nerves, you name it. We've got to find a way to get our swagger back."Maryland trailed 65-59 before Doron hit a 3-pointer, Kristi Toliver scored in the lane and Doron added a short jumper to make it 67-66.Larkins followed with a layup, however, and a jumper in the lane by Latta put North Carolina up 71-66 with 2:02 remaining. Little then hit a short jumper, and two foul shots by Latta gave the Tar Heels a nine-point cushion with one minute to go."We didn't play well, and a lot of that was dictated by Carolina's defense," Frese said. "It took a lot of courage to step up and play the way we did the last 10 minutes."North Carolina limited the Terrapins to 22 percent shooting and forced 14 turnovers in taking a 35-27 halftime lead.Playing in a charged atmosphere usually reserved for the postseason, both teams appeared jittery at the outset. Despite going 2-for-10 with five turnovers in the opening five minutes, Maryland trailed only 7-6 because the Tar Heels missed eight of their initial 11 field-goal tries.With eight minutes elapsed, Langhorne was 2-for-3 from the floor and the rest of the Terrapins were 1-for-12.At that point, North Carolina finally found its shooting touch. Little hit a jumper in the lane and added a layup before Larkins scored on a driving layup and nailed a 15-footer to cap an 8-0 run that made it 20-9.After Frese called a timeout, Doron hit a jumper to end a scoring drought of more than five minutes. Soon after that, however, Heather Claytor and Latta each made a 3-pointer in an 8-2 spurt that put the Tar Heels up 29-15.The Terrapins closed to 33-27 before the usually reserved Frese went onto the floor to complain after Toliver appeared to be fouled in the backcourt. Frese was called for a technical foul, and Latta made both free throws.
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||31-72 (.431)||27-70 (.386)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-18 (.389)||6-21 (.286)|
|FT Made-Attempted||15-19 (.789)||11-15 (.733)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|