Jan. 2, 2007
ATLANTA (AP) – For the first time all season, North Carolina got a scare.
Camille Little scored 18 points, Ivory Latta and LaToya Pringle each added 16 and the second-ranked Tar Heels rallied in the second half Tuesday night for a 69-57 win over Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
North Carolina (16-0) trailed at halftime for the first time all season before coming back to beat the Yellow Jackets (8-5), who led 43-38 with 12:33 left on a free throw by Jill Ingram.
“It was probably good to have a game like this after blowing teams out,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
The Tar Heels were averaging 91 points per game and had beaten opponents by an average of 44 points.
“Georgia Tech had nothing to lose. They came at us hard and we had to step up,” Hatchell added. “We kept our composure and settled down. We went inside and Camille did a good job.”
Latta scored seven of North Carolina’s points in a 9-0 run for a 47-43 lead. Tech never got closer as the Tar Heels went on a 26-9 spurt to lead 64-52 with 3:37 left on a basket by Pringle, who had a game-high 13 rebounds.
Latta shot 1-for-10, including 1-for-5 on 3-pointers, in the first half. She was 3-for-8 and 2-for-5 on 3s in the second half, when she scored 13 points.
“I was terrible in the first half,” Latta said. “Coach got on me. Even though I was missing, I know that I just have to keep shooting. You’re going to have bad games.”
The Tar Heels were outrebounded, 49-43, for the first time this season and their 67 points were a season low – as was their margin of victory. The closest game the Tar Heels had before Tuesday night was a 70-57 win over Tennessee on Dec. 3. The Vols were ranked No. 4 at the time.
“I was proud of our effort in the first half, especially on defense,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “If we were knocking down shots that we usually make, it would have been a totally different game.”
The Yellow Jackets connected on only 32 percent of their shots (21-for-65).
“There’s no doubt we can play with anybody in this league,” Joseph said.
Georgia Tech led 29-27 at the break behind Jacqua Williams, who had 10 points – including the last four to give the Yellow Jackets their lead. Williams finished with 14 points. Chioma Nnamaka added 13 and Stephanie Higgs had 12 for Tech.
The Tar Heels shot 37.5 percent (12-for-32) and committed 10 turnovers in the opening half. North Carolina stepped it up in the second half, hitting 15 of 29 shots (52 percent).
North Carolina was plagued by foul trouble in the first half. Tech’s biggest lead was 23-15 on a free throw by Higgs with 8:38 left. North Carolina then reeled off 10 straight points to take a 25-23 lead with 5 minutes left on a 3 by Latta.