HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Ivory Latta had 21 points and five assists and No. 7 North Carolina dealt Connecticut its worst home loss in the Geno Auriemma era, beating the eighth-ranked Huskies 77-54 Monday night.

The Tar Heels (8-0) were nearly unstoppable on offense, extending their lead to 33 points, and they shut down the Huskies (6-1) for long stretches.

When Latta left the game with 2:22 remaining, the speedy guard received a round of applause from UConn fans that remained.

The loss was the earliest home setback for the Huskies in 15 years. Before Monday, the worst home loss in Auriemma’s 21 years at UConn was a 20-point defeat to Villanova in 1986.

Nearly 14,000 turned out to watch the women’s edition of the Jimmy V Classic, a cancer research fund-raiser in honor of Jim Valvano, the late North Carolina State coach. The game was a rematch of last year’s Jimmy V classic in Raleigh, which was won by the Heels 71-65.

North Carolina gave the UConn fans little to cheer as its relentless defense accounted for five steals and seven blocks and held the Huskies to 35 percent shooting. The Tar Heels also scored 23 points off UConn turnovers.

With Latta running the point, the Tar Heels seemed to score at will as their up-tempo attack ran into little interference.

La’Tangela Atkinson finished with 18 points for North Carolina, and Camille Little added 17. Atkinson and Little combined for 17 rebounds and the Tar Heels outrebounded UConn 42-33. Erlana Larkins finished with three blocks.

Ann Strother finished with 13 points and was the only UConn player to reach double digits.

The Tar Heels had five steals and five blocks in the first period, and when they weren’t swiping the ball, they were swiping at it, disrupting just about everything the Huskies tried to run. North Carolina scored 15 points off turnovers in the opening half.

The Huskies didn’t have an answer for Latta, who had 10 points in the first half.

The Tar Heels silenced the crowd with an early 21-1 run. UConn went nearly 11 minutes without a field goal and nine minutes without a point. By the time Christina DeWitt’s layup ended the run, the Tar Heels’ lead was at 19 points, 28-9, with just under 8 minutes left in the half.

The Huskies recovered and put together a 14-7 to cut their deficit to 35-23 at the break.

AP-ES-12-05-05 2225EST


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