Feb. 10, 2008
ATLANTA (AP) – It was a less than perfect game by a North Carolina team that has made a habit of blowing out opponents this season. But for the No. 3 Tar Heels, less than perfect is still often good enough.
Rashanda McCants had 19 points, Erlana Larkins had 18 points and 14 rebounds and North Carolina coasted to a 75-61 victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday.
The Tar Heels were sloppy with the ball at times, committing 27 turnovers. But with just five regular-season games remaining, they played well enough to keep building momentum as they set their sights on March.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game down here,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “We knew they were going to press and it was going to be very physical, and it was exactly how we thought it would be. We had a lot of turnovers we shouldn’t have had, but Georgia Tech was the reason for that.”
The Tar Heels (22-2, 9-0 ACC) extended their winning streak against the Yellow Jackets to 12, dating back to 2002. And after losing at No. 1 Connecticut on Jan. 21, they’ve won five in a row.
“It’s a good point in time for us to have that sense of urgency,” Larkins said. “But it’s important to always have that. I think urgency should start at the beginning of the season, because if you don’t have it then, it’s going to be hard to get it.”
Georgia Tech (18-6, 5-5), off to its best start in 30 years, lost for the third time in five games and for the fifth time in five tries against ranked opponents. But it stayed within striking distance against a North Carolina team that had previously outscored opponents by an average of more than 26 points.
Wearing pink uniforms to raise breast cancer awareness, the Yellow Jackets gave the Tar Heels a tougher time than they did in a 21-point loss in Chapel Hill on Jan. 5. Janie Mitchell had a team-high 22 points.
“We’re better today than we were a month ago or three weeks ago,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “We’ve got four games left in the conference, and it’s an opportunity to do something special. We can have the best season in the history of our program.”
The Yellow Jackets led by six midway through the first half, but the Tar Heels responded with a 16-2 run and led 42-38 at halftime.
Georgia Tech stayed within single digits for several minutes in the second half. But each time the Yellow Jackets tried to close the gap, the Tar Heels gave themselves some breathing room with a key stop or a quick basket.
North Carolina used a 7-0 run to go up 67-52 with just over 7 minutes left and didn’t let up.