Dallas: The Thrill of Victory

By Jean Neuberger - March 28, 2007

The North Carolina Tar Heels are back in the Final Four, and the team managed to savor the win, while also looking forward to their next destination: Cleveland, and a showdown with Tennessee.

"We are very happy to be going back to the Final Four," said UNC Coach Sylvia Hatchell. "Purdue is an excellent team. We knew we couldn't let up because they are so good. Katie Gearlds is so good. We are very thankful for the win and we're glad to be going back to another Final Four."

Hatchell heaped praise on her two stars of the night, Erlana Larkins and Ivory Latta.

"I call Erlana our warrior, and I think she proved that tonight," said Hatchell. "Ivory is our little floor general out there on the floor."

Larkins, who had 29 points and was named Regional MVP, was all smiles.

"I know that Ivory kept telling me when you get down one-on-one that I shouldn't turn and pass the ball out," so I tried focusing more on that tonight."

I asked Larkins if going inside to her was the plan from the get-go.

"I like to think so," she said. "Coach always says we should be an inside-outside team, so I like to think being aggressive inside is always the game plan."

Latta, who still had the remains of the net around her neck, was grinning from ear-to-ear.

"It means a lot," Latta said. "We work extremely hard and I definitely have sacrificed a lot to make sure my team got back there. I really laid my body out there on the line for them."

When asked about the contrasting styles of the Final Four teams, Hatchell laughed.

"There are a little different styles of play coming in, but there are a lot of ways to get the milk in the jug, as long as it gets in there," Hatchell said.

"I hope everyone gets as excited about N. Carolina-Tennessee as we're going to be," said Larkins.

And with the players waving from their chartered bus, the Tar Heels headed for the airport, where class in Chapel Hill awaits them tomorrow morning.

Posted by Jean Neuberger at 01:20 AM on March 28, 2007

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