Energy shortage foils UM women

No. 1 UNC stops weary Terps for ACC title

North Carolina 91 Maryland 80


GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The grind finally got to the Maryland women's basketball team.

Seeking to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament for the first time since 1989 by knocking off the nation's top two teams on consecutive days, the No. 4 Terps ran out of gas and fell to No. 1 North Carolina, 91-80, in the final before 10,746 at the Greensboro Coliseum yesterday.

Five players scored at least 12 points for Maryland, the tournament's No. 3 seed, which was playing its third game in three days. The Terps had beaten back an upset bid from No. 11 seed Georgia Tech on Friday and knocked off No. 2 seed Duke on Saturday to reach the school's first ACC final since 1993.

But the physical and mental energy spent to get to this stage was apparently too much for the Terps (28-4), who missed out on adding to their conference-record mark of eight tournament crowns.

"All three games were pretty tough, and there was some wear and tear on our bodies," said sophomore center Crystal Langhorne, who had 12 points and seven rebounds. "But that doesn't excuse us from losing the last game."

Junior guard Shay Doron, who did not start for the third straight game due to a bruised right thigh, was equally candid, saying, "We made mental mistakes. Rebounding and putting a body on someone, that's all mental because it's will and consciously thinking it. We just weren't getting it done tonight."

The problem for Maryland, which handed the top-seeded Tar Heels their only loss of the season on Feb. 9, was a porous interior defense. North Carolina (29-1), which won its seventh consecutive game, outscored the Terps 58-38 in the paint and scored 14 fast-break points to Maryland's two.

"We felt like we could spread it out and get penetration and get some dump-offs," said Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell, whose team won its second straight ACC tournament title and seventh in school history. "I think it was at the 12-minute timeout [of the first half] that I told the guards to fake and drive into the paint because great things were happening."

The Terps, whose last lead of the game was with 9:30 left in the first half with the score at 20-18, fell behind by as many as 13 points when junior point guard and ACC Player of the Year Ivory Latta made a layup to give North Carolina a 67-54 lead with 12:15 left in the game.

A layup by sophomore guard Ashleigh Newman (14 points), however, capped a 22-12 Maryland run that trimmed the gap to 79-76 with 5:17 left. But the Tar Heels went on an 8-2 run to put the game out of reach.

North Carolina out-rebounded the Terps 48-37, and although the Tar Heels only scored 17 second-chance points, they had 20 offensive rebounds that kept the ball out of Maryland's hands.

Latta had 26 points and five steals, but the biggest surprise was sophomore center Erlana Larkins, who had 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting and 12 rebounds.

"She's very difficult to defend on the block," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of Larkins, who had averaged 15 points in the teams' first two meetings. "She really backed us down low to be able to get the easy layups. I thought she was a beast out there on the glass."

Larkins' play overshadowed Langhorne's performance, which included just one shot in the second half as North Carolina consistently clogged the passing lanes to force the Terps' perimeter players to find another low-post option.

Reserve sophomore forward Jade Perry scored 14 of her team-high 18 points in the first half, Newman scored all 14 of her points in the second half, and sophomore forward Laura Harper added 13 points and eight rebounds.

But Maryland, which had entered the game with the tournament's second-best three-point field-goal percentage at 39.1 percent, missed its first eight three-point attempts and made just four of 16 for the game.

And freshman point guard Kristi Toliver, who shined in a 16-point effort against Duke on Saturday, picked up three fouls in the first half and finished with just four points on 1-for-9 shooting.

"That takes you out of your rhythm," Frese said of Toliver's foul trouble. "She knows we depend on her to run the team, and you have to play conservatively when you pick up three fouls in the first half."

Notes -- Langhorne and Coleman made the all-tournament first team along with North Carolina's Larkins, Camille Little and Latta, who was named the Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year. Perry was named to the second team. ... If the selection committee awards Maryland a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, it would be only the second time the school has ever received a top seed. The only other time was 1989 when the Terps reached the Final Four before losing to Tennessee.

MARYLAND-Langhorne 3-7 6-6 12, Harper 5-7 3-3 13, Toliver 1-9 2-2 4, Newman 6-12 0-0 14, Coleman 6-14 0-1 14, Doron 2-10 1-1 5, Carr 0-0 0-0 0, Noirez 0-0 0-0 0, Perry 7-8 4-7 18. Totals 30-67 16-20 80. NORTH CAROLINA-Larkins 9-14 8-10 26, Little 5-13 3-4 13, Latta 10-23 5-5 26, Atkinson 3-5 3-4 10, Sell 0-0 0-0 0, Nelms 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 3-7 0-0 6, Dewitt 2-5 1-2 5, Pringle 2-4 1-2 5, McCants 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 34-74 21-27 91. Halftime-North Carolina 45-38. 3-point goals-Maryland 4-16 (Newman 2-4, Coleman 2-4, Doron 0-3, Toliver 0-5), North Carolina 2-15 (Atkinson 1-1, Latta 1-7, McCants 0-1, Little 0-2, Miller 0-2, Dewitt 0-2). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Maryland 37 (Coleman, Harper 8), North Carolina 48 (Larkins 12). Assists-Maryland 10 (Toliver 4), North Carolina 8 (Latta 4). Total fouls-Maryland 24, North Carolina 19. A-10,746.

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