NCAA Women's Tournament

GW Falls to North Carolina's Inside Work

North Carolina's Camille Little is defended by GW's Whitney Allen, who picked up three fouls in the game's first seven minutes Sunday.
North Carolina's Camille Little is defended by GW's Whitney Allen, who picked up three fouls in the game's first seven minutes Sunday. (Donna McWilliam - AP)
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 26, 2007

DALLAS, March 25 -- George Washington's greatest fear before its NCAA tournament region semifinal Sunday night was North Carolina turning Reunion Arena into a 94-foot sprinter's paradise. The top-seeded Tar Heels, it turned out, needed only a few precious feet around each basket to extinguish the Colonials' bid for a second postseason upset in 10 years.

GW offered little resistance in the lane, allowing the versatile Tar Heels to score and rebound easily en route to a 70-56 victory before an announced crowd of 3,875.

In handing the Colonials (28-4) just their second loss in 3 1/2 months, the Tar Heels (33-3) advanced to face second-seeded Purdue -- a 78-65 winner over No. 3 Georgia earlier in the evening -- in Tuesday's final.

By late in the first half against GW, the outcome was no longer in dispute. While Carolina pounded the ball inside for layups and gave itself second-chance opportunities with its forceful rebounding, the Colonials exhausted themselves just getting open shots.

The final rebounding margin was 45-22, with the Tar Heels claiming almost as many offensive rebounds (21) as the Colonials managed overall.

"We felt like we had the right people in the right spots -- it's just that they get their hands on almost everything," GW Coach Joe McKeown said. "I was more disappointed than anything else."

Center LaToya Pringle had 16 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocked shots and front-court colleague Erlana Larkins added 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals for the Tar Heels, who built a 19-point lead before halftime and never trailed.

"We were just relentless," Pringle said. "We know that in order to win a championship, we have to rebound. We just took it personal among ourselves to rebound and win the boards every game."

McKeown talked all week about the need to control the pace of the game, fearful that things would get out of hand quickly if the Tar Heels, who average 85 points, forced turnovers and started to run. The Colonials labored offensively the first few minutes, but their aggressive defense forced five quick turnovers and disrupted Carolina's rhythm.

GW needed to establish a low-post presence with Jessica Adair, but the Tar Heels' size and athletic ability limited her space and forced awkward shot attempts. It was a troubling sign. The lane became a treacherous place for the Colonials at both ends and the rebounding gap widened.

GW's outside shooting kept the game close for seven minutes, but with the score tied at 10, the Tar Heels used their inside-outside combinations to score nine consecutive points.

Sarah-Jo Lawrence -- who led the Colonials with a career-high 23 points before fouling out -- found her range with a pair of long jumpers, but a string of turnovers and continued low-post problems threatened to turn the game into a runaway. The Tar Heels pushed the lead to 19 before Kenan Cole, GW's only senior, hit a three-pointer from the corner and Whitney Allen banked in a long jumper with five seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 38-24.


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