Tar Heels Roll Into Semis, 90-60, Over Hokies
March 2, 2007
BY STEVE PHILLIPS
GREENSBORO, N.C. - North Carolina has claimed the last two Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Tournament championships. Based on Friday night's performance against Virginia Tech in the 2007 quarterfinals, the Tar Heels have definite interest in a threepeat.
UNC charged to an early double-digit lead and was never threatened as it rolled to a 90-60 win. The fourth-ranked and second-seeded Tar Heels advanced to Saturday's 4:30 p.m. semifinal game against the winner of Friday night's later game between Maryland and Georgia Tech.
"I thought defensively we started strong, and then we were shooting the ball well," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We got rolling from the beginning. I'm glad we were able to play a lot of people and rest some people up for tomorrow."
The Tar Heels entered the month of February unbeaten and ranked No. 2 nationally. Two losses to rival Duke and one to North Carolina State in the weeks leading up to the ACC Tournament left UNC's players eager to open postseason play with a clean slate.
"Coach Hatchell told us it's a new season -- three games," senior forward Camille Little said. "Right now, we're just looking to do our best the next two (ACC Tournament) games, and hopefully the outcome will be to our favor."
Little scored 20 points and came up with seven steals to key UNC, which jumped out to a 28-8 lead, led 50-25 at the half and built the margin as high as 41 points even as Hatchell made liberal use of her bench. Eleven Tar Heels played at least eight minutes, but none logged more than 25.
Ivory Latta added 17 points for UNC, while Jessica Breland scored 12 and Rashanda McCants had 11. The Tar Heels shot 57 percent as a team and held a 36-29 rebounding edge.
"Coach emphasizes being focused at the start of the game, and we came out with a lot of intensity," Latta said. "We were very focused on what we had to do. We came out with a great start, and our bench did a great job of coming in and scoring."
Nare Diawara scored 17 points to lead the seventh-seeded Hokies (18-14). Kirby Copeland added 12, and Brittany Cook finished with 10.
Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger lamented her team's 37 percent shooting night and 27 turnovers. But she credited UNC as well.
"I thought that was one of the best performances by a team I've seen all year," said Dunkenberger, who endured a 102-68 loss to the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Jan. 4. "They shot the ball extremely well, moved the ball around and scored from nearly every position on the court.
"It was just a day where if it could go wrong for Virginia Tech, it did. If it could go right for Carolina, it did. Not a good combination for the Hokies."