Jan. 5, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Rashanda McCants scored 19 points and Jessica Breland added 18 to help No. 4 North Carolina beat Georgia Tech 99-78 on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Jacqua Williams set an ACC record with 11 steals, but the Yellow Jackets (13-2) failed take advantage of North Carolina’s season-high 32 turnovers, making just 29 of 78 shots.
“I was proud of the way our team competed,” head coach MaChelle Joseph said. “We have a taste of playing against the most athletic team in the country on the road. That will prepare us for the level we have to play at to win in this league.”
Rebecca Gray and Cetera DeGraffenreid each added 12 points for North Carolina (14-1). Erlana Larkins and LaToya Pringle scored 10 apiece.
Larkins also had 10 rebounds, helping North Carolina to a 41-39 edge on the boards.
“Jacqua (Williams) was phenomenal on the defensive end, setting the ACC steals record in the game,” Joseph added.
North Carolina led 47-28 at halftime, with Pringle and McCants both scoring eight points.
The Yellow Jackets had more fouls (13) than field goals (11) in the opening 20 minutes. Despite pressure that forced 15 North Carolina turnovers at that point, Georgia Tech scored just two transition baskets.
McCants scored the last five points of the first half and North Carolina’s first six points of the second to help the Tar Heels pull away.
Georgia Tech never got closer than 55-39 in the second half and North Carolina led by as much as 91-61 with 6:32 to play.
Georgia Tech was within 10 of the Tar Heels for most of the first half, helped by a 23-18 margin in first-half rebounds, including 16-2 on the offensive boards.
The Tar Heels made 33 of 57 shots from the field, and 36 of those tries came from the paint. All of North Carolina’s made baskets were from the paint, except for five 3-pointers.
Ivory Latta, the fiery point guard who finished her career last spring as the school’s career scoring leader with 2,285 points, saw her No. 12 jersey retired during a halftime ceremony and presentation by UNC Chancellor James Moeser.