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Tempe Region

Baylor Ousts UNC, Heads to Final Four

Baylor 72, North Carolina 63

Associated Press
Tuesday, March 29, 2005; Page D05

TEMPE, Ariz., March 28 -- Sophia Young scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and the second-seeded Lady Bears are headed to the Final Four for the first time in school history after beating the top-ranked Tar Heels, 72-63, Monday night.

Young, whose mother traveled from the West Indies last week to see her daughter play in college for the first time, was named the most valuable player of the Tempe Region.

Baylor (31-3) extended its school-record winning streak to 18 games, leading by 19 points in the second half against North Carolina (30-4), which had won 16 straight going into the game.

"You can coach a lifetime and have great teams that are expected to be in the Final Four and never make it," said Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, who took over in 2000 and built the lackluster program into a powerhouse. "For our team to do it in five short years, I can't say enough about our coaches and players."

The Baylor men's basketball team made it to the Final Four in 1948 and 1950, but that program gained infamy when a former player was accused of murdering a teammate in 2003.

"This means a lot and speaks volumes for what we've done for the Baylor University community," said Steffanie Blackmon, holding a piece of the net the players cut down. "Last year we decided to be the shining light for the university because of everything that happened. We wanted to be something positive for Baylor."

Chameka Scott, 0 for 9 from three-point range in her previous two games, was 4 for 8 against North Carolina and scored 18 points for Baylor. Blackmon added 14 points.

The Lady Bears, who hadn't even been to a region final before, will play Louisiana State in a national semifinal on Sunday in Indianapolis.

North Carolina, trying to match the Tar Heel men for a Final Four berth, shot just 32 percent. Ivory Latta, North Carolina's 5-foot-6 point guard, scored 21 but was bounced around all night by Baylor's defense and was just 6-for-22 shooting, 3 for 13 from behind the three-point line.

"We know we could have won that game," North Carolina freshman Erlana Larkins said. "We beat ourselves down pretty badly. We didn't box out and we just didn't do the little things."

Larkins, who scored 18 in North Carolina's victory over Arizona State on Saturday, was held to just six points.

"We took her out of her game," Young said. "I think we got in her mind."

Two more victories for Baylor would give the Waco, Tex., school its second national title in any sport. Baylor won the NCAA men's tennis championship last year.

Baylor outscored the Tar Heels 12-2 over the final 5 minutes 16 seconds of a sometimes frenetic and often sloppy first half to take a 33-24 lead at the break. Scott's three-pointer with 12:01 to play made it 49-31, and Young's two free throws with 11:01 remaining gave Baylor a 53-34 lead.

The Tar Heels had not faced that big a deficit all season, and responded with an 8-0 run to cut it to 49-38. But the closest North Carolina got was seven in the final seconds.

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