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March 6, 2005

Box Score

AP Sports Writer

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Ivory Latta scored a career-high 32 points,including a spinning jumper with 34 seconds to play that gave No. 4 NorthCarolina the lead for good in a 78-72 victory over Virginia in the semifinalsof the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

The Tar Heels (26-3) rallied from a 17-point, second-half deficit to pullout the win and advance to the finals for the fourth consecutive year. ButNorth Carolina, the top seed, hasn’t won an ACC tournament title since 1998 andwill have to start playing better to do so this year.

North Carolina is struggling in this tournament – the Tar Heels trailedMiami for most of the quarterfinals before pulling out a 64-57 victory. Andthey should have rolled over Virginia (20-10), a team they beat twice in theregular season by a combined 49 points.

But North Carolina was out of sync offensively, and Virginia looked as if itwould pull out the upset despite playing without All-ACC guard andsecond-leading scorer LaTonya Blue (ankle) and sophomore reserve SiedahWilliams (knee).

Instead, Latta took over late – she scored 19 of her points in the secondhalf – and gave the Tar Heels the lead on her 14-foot jumper that made it 73-72with 34 seconds to play.

Virginia then unraveled. Jocelyn Logan-Friend had her shot blocked by ErlanaLarkins, and Larkins then took the ball away from her and headed toward theother end of the court.

Logan-Friend got tangled up with Larkins in her pursuit, and as the twocrashed to the court, Logan-Friend was called for an intentional foul. She wasfighting off tears as Larkins made both free throws for a 75-72 lead with 9seconds left.

Then Tiffany Sardin was called for an intentional foul against Virginia onthe inbounds pass, and Nikita Bell went to the line for North Carolina. Shemade one of her two shots for a 76-72 lead.

Virginia had to foul again as soon as the Tar Heels inbounded it again, andLatta went to the line this time for two free throws that locked up the winwith 8 seconds to play.

Bell finished with 18 points for North Carolina. Larkins added 13, andCamille Little scored 10.

Sardin led Virginia with 21 points, while Brandi Teamer had 18 andLogan-Friend added 16.

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