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Maryland Ousts North Carolina

The Terrapins stick to game plan in 81-70 semifinal victory and topple No. 1 Tar Heels.

April 03, 2006|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

BOSTON — If not for Maryland, North Carolina's women would be enjoying an undefeated season and still chasing a national championship.

The Tar Heels, ranked No. 1 in the nation and top-seeded in the NCAA tournament, had two losses this season.

The Terrapins handed them both, including Sunday's 81-70 victory in the first Final Four semifinal at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Maryland (33-4), which got a career-high 24 points from Laura Harper and 23 from Crystal Langhorne, advanced to Tuesday's championship game against Duke.

"Just a tremendous game from both teams," Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. "To hold North Carolina to 70 points was our game plan. Just to be able to keep our poise and composure throughout a 40-minute game.... This team just continues to take us for a heck of a ride."

North Carolina (33-2) got 28 points and 10 rebounds from Erlana Larkins. But while the sophomore forward made nine of 17 shots, her teammates shot a collective 16 of 51 (31.4%). The Terrapins also outrebounded North Carolina, 41-31.

Maryland's 56% shooting (28 of 50) was a season high for a Tar Heel opponent.

"We had a great year, but we didn't play well [tonight]," North Carolina Coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We couldn't make a three-point shot [four for 23] and actually took too many ... and the rebounding was a big factor."

Maryland beat North Carolina on Feb. 9, 98-95, in overtime at Chapel Hill. Whatever shortcomings were revealed in that loss, the Tar Heels thought they had corrected them in the 90-81 victory over Maryland in the ACC tournament final nearly a month later.

"We had a lot of turnovers [26 combined for the game]. The coaches kept telling us to relax, and we kept telling ourselves to relax because North Carolina can speed you up," said Langhorne, who tied a Final Four record by shooting 83.3% (10 of 12). "We just wanted to take our time and take care of the ball."

The Tar Heels, who trailed 36-34 at halftime, had a major scare when Ivory Latta came down awkwardly on her left leg while catching a high pass at 12:24 of the first half.

Although she was carried off the court with a hyper-extended left knee, Latta returned to the contest less than two minutes later. But, as she admitted afterward, she was not the same player. Even though Latta scored 14 points, she made only five of 17 shots.

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