LaRue scored the layup at 10:39 -- Brown continued to lie face down on the floor of Carmichael Auditorium.
For the moments while Brown remained on the floor, North Carolina's hopes for pulling out a win against Virginia seemed grim. UNC forward LaQuanda Barksdale, the ACC's leading scorer, and center LaShonda Allen were sitting on the bench with four fouls apiece.
Although Brown did get up, did return to play and did lead the Tar Heels to rally and tie the game, it simply wasn't enough. Virginia captured the victory 78-76 on the strength of a LaRue layup.
The Cavaliers (12-5, 4-1 in the ACC) were able to evade the Tar Heels because they remained calm while benefitting from key turnovers and poor shot selection by North Carolina (8-6, 2-3).
"In the last three minutes of the game, we didn't back up," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "Tonight, instead of backing up when we got to the last three minutes, we relished being in."
As well they should have.
The Tar Heels made 12 second-half turnovers, including two Telisha Quarles steals that turned into two Cavs layups on the other end of the court.
Quarles finished second on the team with 17 points, all of those coming in the second half. LaRue topped the team with her season-high 29 points.
Ryan decided to go to the hot-handed sophomore forward with 5.5 seconds remaining in the game and just let her power to basket.
The Cavaliers worked on its game-winning play based on a hunch of Ryan's. Knowing how tight the two teams often play each other, Ryan made the Cavs practice inbounding to LaRue, who drove to the basket.
Ryan's instinct proved accurate, as LaRue blew past her defender Cherie Lea for the layup and to take the lead with 1.8 seconds on the clock.
UNC's defense strung together 3:06 in the second half where it was able to stop Quarles and LaRue and only gave up two points on foul shots.
"We were stopping them on defense, but we were coming down and we weren't running over offense," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We were coming down, and we were taking quick shots. We were seeing some holes to the basket, and we were trying to drive to the basket. That's when we needed to settle down more."
The Tar Heels snapped out of its offense troubles on the shoulders of its backcourt duo of Brown and Brown.
Juana Brown, who shot 3-of-9 from the field, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 76, while Coretta Brown scored four of UNC's last 12 points. Juana Brown also scored the last six points of UNC's 71-70 win against Clemson on Monday.
Coretta Brown led the Tar Heels with 21 points and seven assists.
"I thought Coretta Brown had a great game," Hatchell said. "Even though she had seven turnovers, I thought she played very well."
The Tar Heels will attempt to break a nine-year ACC attendance record at 1 p.m. Sunday against No. 19 N.C. State. The game will be held in the Smith Center.
Before tipoff, Hatchell will present the Lineberger Cancer Center with a check. Hatchell and her family have committed $5 for every season ticket sold this year.
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