Sun Devils Fall To Tar Heels In Tempe Regional, 79-72.

Final Stats

March 26, 2005

By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona State had the home crowd roaring and the 3-pointshots falling, at least for a while.

That wasn't enough against the quick, strong Tar Heels of North Carolina,who beat the scrappy Sun Devils 79-72 in the semifinals of the Tempe Regionalon Saturday night.

North Carolina (30-3), chosen as a No. 1 seed over top-ranked Stanford,dominated play inside to advance to Monday night's regional final against No. 2seed Baylor, a 64-57 winner over Minnesota in Saturday's first game at WellsFargo Arena.

Ivory Latta, North Carolina's point guard who is optimistically listed at5-feet-6, scored four of her 20 points in the final minute to help seal thevictory.

Freshman Erlana Larkins had 18 points and matched her career high with 14rebounds. Latta added 16 points, and La'Tangela Atkinson had 14. Nikita Bellscored 13 for the Tar Heels, 11 in the second half when North Carolina finallypulled away.

Kylan Loney, playing with a broken nose, scored 18 points, including 3-of-63-pointers, in her final game for the Sun Devils (24-10), who lost for only thesecond time in 14 home games this season. The other loss was to Stanford, theNo. 2 seed in the Kansas City Regional.

Kristen Kovesdy added 13 points for Arizona State, but only two in thesecond half when she was in foul trouble. Aubree Johnson scored 12. EmilyWesterberg, Arizona State's all-Pac 10 forward, scored 12 points but was just3-for-16 from the field.

Down just 46-42 at the break, Arizona State tied it twice early in thesecond half, the last time at 48-48 on Loney's 16-footer with 17:33 to play.But Bell had eight points, including two three-point plays, in a 10-3 run thatput the Tar Heels ahead 58-51 with 15:01 to go.

The pesky Sun Devils stayed close though, and Amy Denson's two free throwscut the lead to 62-60 with 9:29 to go.

Larkins' rebound basket boosted the lead to 66-62 with 8:40 to play. ArizonaState never got closer than four after that.

After falling behind 6-0, the Sun Devils got the crowd going with a 13-0run, nine of them by Loney - two 3-pointers and three free throws when she wasfouled on another 3-point try.

The lead reached 20-10 on Aubree Johnson's 15-footer with 12:54 to play inthe first half.

But the Tar Heels came back, dominating play inside in a 13-2 surge to go up30-26 on Latta's 25-foot 3-pointer 5:44 before the break. Larkins, a 6-foot-2freshman, scored on a layup and rebound in a 6-0 spurt that put North Carolinaahead 44-35 with 2:36 to play in the half.

Arizona State's fifth 3-pointer of the half, by Johnson, triggered a 7-2 SunDevils run to finish the opening 20 minutes.

North Carolina made the regional finals for the third time, its first since1998. The Tar Heels won the national title in 1994.

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