Originally created 03/02/98

Lady Tar Heels route Clemson 81-50



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Chanel Wright made the most of a fresh start, and the result was North Carolina's fourth Atlantic Coast Conference title in five years.

Bouncing back from a scoreless semifinal in which she missed all 11 of her field goal attempts, Wright scored North Carolina's first 10 points Sunday, sending the 10th-ranked Tar Heels to an 81-50 victory over No. 16 Clemson.

"I had no control and I was rushing my shots," Wright said of her struggles one day earlier. "Today I just felt comfortable."

Wright hit her first six shots and eight of 11, finishing with 21 points. Her early burst gave the Tar Heels a lead they never relinquished on the way to their second consecutive championship and fifth overall.

"She hurt us badly out of the starting gate. That's the mark of a good player," Clemson coach Jim Davis said of Wright, who is often overshadowed as the second-leading scorer on a team that has three-time ACC scoring champion Tracy Reid.

The Tar Heels (24-6) won the championship by defeating three Top 25 teams in as many days. North Carolina ousted No. 15 Virginia in the quarterfinals and No. 8 Duke in the semifinals.

"I've known all year that this team could play this well," coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "This is the best we've played this year."

The Lady Tigers, bidding for their second title in three years, instead suffered their most lopsided loss of the season and matched their largest losing margin in tournament history. It also was the second-worst loss in ACC championship game history, just one point less than Maryland's 32-point victory over North Carolina State in 1989.

The Tar Heels harassed Clemson (24-7) into 19 turnovers and converted them into 24 points. Most of the damage came in the first half, when North Carolina scored 14 points off 11 miscues.

Clemson, which shot 29 percent and had four players foul out, got 14 points from former Hephzibah, Ga., star Itoro Umoh, who fouled out with 8:43 left. Amy Geren added 13 points.