CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's three returning starters draw plenty of attention wherever they go.
That made for a memorable debut for freshman Jessica Breland.
Proving there was more to the No. 2 Tar Heels' lineup than Ivory Latta, Breland had 18 points and 14 rebounds in her first game to lead North Carolina to a season-opening 96-35 rout of East Tennessee State on Friday night.
"A lot of people were surprised. I was not surprised," North
Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I know she's capable of
playing like she did tonight. It's not a surprise. It's not
unnatural for her. This is what she'll probably be able to do very
LaToya Pringle also had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar
Heels, whose scrambling, high-pressure defense forced 26 turnovers
and held the overmatched Bucs without a field goal for nearly 10
minutes in the first half.
Latta, a preseason All-American, had 12 points, Rashanda McCants
had 11 and Christina Dewitt added 10 for the Tar Heels.
North Carolina led by 63, outrebounded East Tennessee State
71-26 and held the Bucs to 19 percent shooting.
"I didn't even know I had 18 points, but I know Coach Hatchell
was telling me about the rebounding, and I'm proud of that,"
North Carolina returns three double-figure scorers -- Latta,
Erlana Larkins and Camille Little -- from the team that reached No.
1 for the first time in school history and reached the Final Four
for just the second time ever, but lost in the national semifinals
to eventual champion Maryland.
The Tar Heels -- who went 32-0 against the rest of the nation
but 1-2 against the Terrapins -- made it their goal this season to
avenge those losses and build for another deep run in the NCAA
"We have a new attitude -- we're going to get it, no matter what
game it is," Latta said. "So we're going toi play hard and go get
They certainly got off to an encouraging start against
outclassed East Tennessee State, and they were led by two players
who weren't instrumental in last year's success -- Breland and
Pringle, who was making her second career start.
Not that East Tennessee State coach Karen Kemp was caught by
surprise by their emergence.
"I expect that from the starters to the entire bench," Kemp
said. "You can't be the No. 2 team in the country by having two
players. You've got to have an entire team. In practice you've got
to have five, seven people who can make the starters better. They
have the total package."
And they proved it during a dominant first half. North Carolina
never trailed and nearly turned the half into one long spurt.
The Tar Heels outscored the Bucs 42-6 during the final 13:27 of
the half, shot 43 percent and held East Tennessee State to 20
percent shooting and 2-of-16 shooting from 3-point range.
During one stretch, North Carolina scored 16 consecutive points
and East Tennessee State went 9:37 between field goals.
Michelle Devault led East Tennessee State with 13 points.
The Tar Heels led 53-16 at halftime and went on to improve to
10-0 all-time against East Tennessee State.