ATLANTA --- No. 16 North Carolina outscored Georgia Tech 11-4 over the game's final four minutes and three seconds and the Tar Heels held on for a 60-58 victory Sunday at McCamish Pavilion. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds and scored six of Carolina's final nine points to help seal UNC's 22nd win of the season and give Sylvia Hatchell sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list.
UNC (22-3, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) was in control for much of the game and looked poised to run away with it after building a 9-point lead early in the second half.
But the physical Yellow Jackets (10-14, 3-10) rallied behind leading scorer Tyaunna Marshall and her layup with 6:29 to play put the hosts ahead 50-48. Another Marshall bucket with 4:13 to go made it 54-49 before the Tar Heels started their game-winning rally.
Latifah Coleman, who finished with career highs of 13 points and six steals, made a pair of free throws to pull UNC within three just before the under-4 media timeout.
Ruffin-Pratt then connected on back-to-back mid-range jumpers to break a 10-minute field goal drought for the Tar Heels and give Carolina the lead at 55-54.
After Georgia Tech's Nariah Taylor made one of two free throws, Xylina McDaniel made a pair to push the UNC advantage to 57-55. Aaliyah Whiteside then made one of two before Marshall stole a Coleman pass under her own bucket and scored to put Tech back up by a point.
Marshall fouled Ruffin-Pratt right after the restart, however, and the Alexandria, Va., senior made both to put Carolina ahead. Whiteside got an open look at what would have been the winning 3, but the long jumper hit the front iron and the ball deflected out of bounds off the Yellow Jackets.
Megan Buckland, who made four 3s in the opening 20 minutes, threw the ensuing in-bounds pass deep to McDaniel, who dribbled out the clock to secure the thrilling victory.
The win was the second milestone win for Hatchell in as many games as the 27-year head coach moved past longtime Texas coach Jody Conradt for second all-time in career wins with 901.
Carolina will return home Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. when the Tar Heels host Wake Forest at Carmichael Arena.