Women's Basketball ACCtion: Saturday, January 26
Jan. 26, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - In the days following a loss at top-ranked Connecticut, LaToya Pringle felt herself fighting through her quiet personality to become more demanding of her North Carolina teammates in practice.
But she figured she owed them a lot more than just words.
"If you're going to talk a game," she said, "you've got to back it up."
Pringle did that Saturday, scoring 12 of her career-high 31 points in the second overtime to help the third-ranked Tar Heels beat No. 4 Maryland 97-86.
Erlana Larkins had 25 points and 18 rebounds for the Tar Heels (18-2, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who bounced back from Monday's loss to the Huskies with a thrilling home victory.
In a matchup befitting the rivalry of recent seasons, North Carolina turned in the kind of steady late-game performance it lacked in road losses to the Huskies - they led by four with about 5 1/2 minutes left - and to Tennessee earlier this year. It came in the middle of a tough four-game stretch, which ends with a trip to No. 10 Duke on Feb. 4, that could determine just how good these Tar Heels really are in their first year without graduated stars Ivory Latta and Camille Little.
Of course, if Pringle and Larkins keep playing like this, North Carolina should be just fine.
Pringle has spent the bulk of her career toiling in the background while Larkins, Latta and Little got the attention in the Tar Heels' run to consecutive Final Fours. Yet against the Terrapins (22-2, 6-1), she made the overtime-forcing three-point play and scored six straight points in the second OT as the Tar Heels finally pulled away.
She finished 11-for-16 from the field, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked three shots in 40 minutes. She did all that despite taking an elbow to that cut open her lip midway through the second half, forcing her to change out of her bloodied No. 30 jersey and don the No. 55 with no name on the back.
After Larkins knocked down two free throws for the lead just a few seconds into the second overtime, the 6-foot-3 Pringle went to work. She scored inside off a feed from Larkins and knocked down a jumper in the lane off a feed from Jessica Breland before scoring on a putback to make it 87-82 with 1:52 left.
Maryland got no closer the rest of the way, with Pringle going 6-for-6 at the line in the final minute to help seal it.
Rashanda McCants added 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for North Carolina, which led by 10 points early but had to rally from a seven-point deficit midway through the second half. She also had a layup off a steal to tie it at 79 with 31 seconds left in the first overtime.
Crystal Langhorne had 23 points to lead the Terrapins, who had won 12 straight games. Marissa Coleman added 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Kristi Toliver had 20 points and 14 assists.
It was the sixth straight meeting in which both teams were ranked in the top 10. Two years ago, Maryland handed North Carolina its only two losses, the second coming in the Final Four on the Terps' way to the national championship. Last year, the Tar Heels won on the road in the regular season and beat the Terrapins in the ACC tournament semifinals.
After Pringle's three-point play tied it at 71 with 46.5 seconds left in regulation, both teams had a chance to avoid overtime. But Breland blocked Coleman's jumper on one end while Pringle's putback of a missed 3 from McCants rattled out as the horn sounded.
Maryland had another chance for the win at the end of the first overtime, but Toliver missed a midrange jumper on the final play.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Virginia defeated Florida State in overtime, 69-66, Saturday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Paulisha Kellum's 3-pointer with 2:17 left was the difference in the game as the Cavaliers improve to 15-5 overall, 4-1 in the ACC.
Kellum's trey gave UVa a 69-65 lead and although Florida State scored again, Virginia held on for the victory. Kellum finished with nine points, but the story of the game was the inside play of Virginia center Aisha Mohammed, who hauled down a career-high 21 rebounds to go with 18 points for her eighth double-double of the season.
Also in double figures for the Cavs were Lyndra Littles, Sharnee Zoll and Monica Wright, all with 12.
Down three points with less than five minutes left in the first half, the Cavaliers put together an impressive 13-1 run to end the period. It began with a Zoll 3-pointer that tied the game at 21-21, and continued with eight unanswered UVa points capped off by a steal at midcourt and finish by Wright.
Kelly Hartig, the Cavaliers' lone freshman, was the recipient of Zoll's fifth assist of the half as time ran out and she finished the layup to give Virginia a 31-22 lead at halftime.
The Seminoles mounted a comeback in the second half and eventually tied the game, 51-51, on a jumpshot by Christian Hunnicutt with six minutes left to play. FSU built its lead to as many as five points but Virginia battled back and tied the game again, 58-58, with 1:50 left on a jumpshot by Monica Wright.
Shante Williams had the answer for Florida State and put her team up two on a driving layup, but Lyndra Littles came up big for Virginia and hit the tying shot with 19.1 seconds left in regulation.
Overtime belonged to Virginia, as it built a five-point lead on back-to-back baskets by Kellum and held on for the three-point victory.