- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2006

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Maybe the ACC is more than just a two-team race after all.

Ashleigh Newman hit a long desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime while Marissa Coleman scored five straight points afterward to help sixth-ranked Maryland beat No. 1 North Carolina 98-95 last night, ending the Tar Heels’ 30-game home winning streak.

Crystal Langhorne scored 25 points to lead the Terrapins (22-2, 9-1 ACC), who rallied from a 14-point deficit in the final 12 minutes of regulation to win here for the first time in a decade.

And for a team hovering in the shadows of the top-ranked Tar Heels (22-1, 9-1) and No. 2 Duke — where the Terps travel Monday — it was clear just how big this win was for Brenda Frese’s club.

“Our program took a step forward tonight,” the coach said.

Newman’s shot was just a small part of a back-and-forth contest that had a little bit of everything. The Tar Heels appeared that they would remain the nation’s last unbeaten team in Division I — men’s or women’s — despite a shaky shooting day from leading scorer Ivory Latta thanks to the play of Camille Little and Erlana Larkins.

Little had 24 points, including 12 on 6-for-6 shooting after Latta picked up her third foul in the first half. Larkins had 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and three steals in 32 minutes, but didn’t play the overtime because of leg cramps.

Latta finished with 21 points on 7-for-20 shooting with five turnovers.

But the Terps — whose only losses came against Tennessee and Duke — improved to 4-0 in overtime with a balanced effort in the extra period. Langhorne also had five points in the extra period, while Kristi Toliver hit a pair of free throws with 17.2 seconds left to make it a three-point game.

“That’s why you play a tough nonconference schedule,” Frese said. “The challenge for us is to continue to get better. I love where this team is at and the confidence we’re playing with.”

For the Tar Heels, there was plenty to dwell on afterward. In a physical game in which the teams combined for 50 fouls and 55 free throws, the Tar Heels shot just 13-for-27 at the line and committed 25 turnovers. That list included a missed free throw by Latta — an 88-percent free-throw shooter — with 15.4 seconds left in regulation that allowed Newman, 1-for-9 from the field on the night, to tie it at the horn.

The Tar Heels were also concerned about the health of backup point guard Alex Miller, who was carried off the court on a stretcher after she got her feet tangled up while playing transition defense and slid headfirst into the basket support. Miller was taken to a hospital for neck X-rays, though results were unavailable immediately after the game.

“You have to deal with what’s dealt to you,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “If we had made some foul shots, we wouldn’t even be talking about [a loss].”

With North Carolina leading 83-80 in the final seconds of regulation, Shay Doron missed a straightaway 3-pointer that Larkins appeared to rebound. But Larkins fell forward along the baseline and the ball went bouncing back inbounds.

Newman raced to the ball several feet beyond the arc on the right side and hurled a shot that swished through the net as the horn sounded, setting off a brief celebration by the Terps. North Carolina players watched in stunned silence while Larkins was down on the sideline with the leg cramps that kept her out the rest of the way.

Coleman put the Terps ahead to stay with a putback on the first play of overtime for an 85-83 lead. She then followed with a desperation 3-pointer that topped Newman’s heave, spinning to her right while being closely defended by La’Tangela Atkinson and tossing the ball toward the backboard with the shot clock set to expire.

The ball banked in from the right side, giving Maryland an 88-83 lead that ultimately held up.

Still, the Tar Heels closed to within 96-95 on a banked-in 3-pointer from Latta with 27.1 seconds left. Then, after a pair of free throws by Toliver, the Tar Heels missed three 3s in the final seconds to tie it — the last coming when Latta missed at the horn despite drawing contact from Doron.

The officials did not call a foul, setting off an oncourt celebration for the Terps and leaving Latta sitting on the court in shock.

“She pump-faked, my hands were up, all ball hit my hand,” Doron said. “That was it.”

Latta wouldn’t comment on whether she thought she drew the foul.

“It’s over with,” she said. “I will let it go.”

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