Womens Hoops Falls to UNC

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The North Carolina Tar Heels are the real deal. Not only did they experience that first hand, but they also faced what very well might be the best team in the country as the visiting Tar Heels destroyed the Hurricanes 90-57 in front of a season-high crowd of 1,836 at the BankUnited Center.

The University of Miami women's basketball team found out something Monday night 14 other teams, including the mighty UConn Huskies, learned earlier this season.

Hopefully for the men, they won't have the same run in as they travel to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina Saturday, but the odds of the men experiencing what the women faced Monday night are slim to none.

Why?

Because the Tar Heels, which had beaten their first 14 opponents by an average of 34 points per game, and had beaten 12 of its opponents by 20 or more, including a 23-point thrashing at UConn, a game that it led by more than 30 in the second half, played better in the first ten minutes of the game than even they could have imagined.

Led by All-American point guard Ivory Latta, who is probably the nation's best player and finished with 21 points, the Heels jumped all over Miami from the opening tip.

Latta hit four three-pointers in the first seven minutes of the game as the Heels took a 19-6 lead in the blink of an eye. With 8:30 to go in the first half, the Heels had a 38-13lead and were not slowing down as they drilled a ridiculous 10 of their first 13 three-point attempts.

When asked if they could imagine shooting the ball that well, North Carolina power forward and Palm Beach-native Erlana Larkins, who had over 60 fans in the stands, answered bluntly.

"No," Larkins said.

Added Latta who was surprised at how well they shot the ball early.

"Whew, nah, I just think the ball well throughout the whole game. We were just moving the ball, good teamwork and everyone was making open shots," Latta said.

Their blazing shooting calmed down in the second half as they finished with 13 three-pointers overall on a school record 32 attempts, but the damage was done and so were the ‘Canes.

UM coach Katie Meier conceded there was nothing the ‘Canes could really do about the Tar Heels hot shooting to start the game.

"What can you say, they hit ten threes and completely took us out of our game," Meier said. "It took the confidence of our team away and took us out of what we wanted to do."

But it was a matter of picking their poison as the ‘Canes opened up in a zone defense and tried to pack it in and prevent getting dominated on the boards as they did against Georgia Tech even though they won the game.

Against the Yellow Jackets, the ‘Canes were out rebounded by 27 and didn't want to have that happen against what Meier called probably the best offensive rebounding team in the country in North Carolina.

But that left a ton of open shots with the Tar Heels impeccable ball movement that allowed them to have open look after open look.

"That was the thing I told Coach (Sylvia Hatchell) after the game," Meier said. "It wasn't that they were hitting their shots, but they were moving the ball so well."

What made matters worse as the ‘Canes went into the half trailing by 27 points at 50-23 was that the ‘Canes top two scorers Tamara James who came in averaging an ACC leading 21.7 points per game and Renee Taylor who entered the game averaging 14.8 points per game, were shut out having shot a combined 0 for 13. James didn't score his first points until a minute into the second half and finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor also finished with 11 points, but it was too little too late. Melissa Knight led Miami with 14 points.

"We had two complete opposite ends of the spectrum for us," Meier said. "Both were bad. They hit ten threes and we get zero points from Tamara and Renee. We should have been losing the game and we were."

But the season is far from over for the 11-3 ‘Canes who must rebound quickly as they travel to Clemson Thursday, which also happened to get blasted by UNC as well by 41 last Friday. Following that game, Miami will travel to Georgia to face a very good Bulldogs squad on Sunday.

When asked if this is a game they try put out of their minds and move on to the next one.

"We can't forget this game," Meier said. "We were exposed tonight. We need to make adjustments so this doesn't happen again."

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is the Basketball Beat Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at rudy@canestime.com

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