CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Once North Carolina's young guards
figured out to get the ball to Erlana Larkins, their first test of
the season turned into a blowout.
Larkins scored 12 of her 20 points in the second half and added
11 rebounds to help the Tar Heels (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) beat No. 12 Arizona State
75-60 in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Sunday.
"Arizona State did a great job, and I was expecting that, but I
just thought there were times that I was open, even if I were to
just pass the ball, but they weren't getting it in there," Larkins
said. "When it comes to tournament time and ACC time, Tennessee,
UConn, all those mistakes are really going to cost us."
Rashanda McCants scored a career-high 18 points and Jessica
Breland added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Tar Heels (2-0),
who are trying to develop a rhythm between their experienced post
players and a talented but young group of guards that is replacing
graduated All-American Ivory Latta.
"At times we were a little out of sync, but I told them, 'Just
don't slow down,'" coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We'll make those
corrections going 100 miles per hour."
North Carolina outrebounded the Sun Devils 50-39 and forced 29
turnovers, scoring 21 points off those miscues. The Tar Heels also
held Arizona State in the second half to 18 points on 21.9 percent
shooting, after allowing the Sun Devils to shoot 51.6 percent in
the opening 20 minutes.
"Missed free throws, missed shots in the paint -- we had good
looks from the perimeter," Arizona State coach Charlie Turner
Thorne said. "I think we got tired, really, not in great game
shape, and they did a good job of picking up their defense."
Danielle Orsillo scored 16 of her career-high 21 points in the
first half and Jill Noe added 13 for Arizona State (0-1), which was
held to three field goals in the final 10 minutes in beginning this
season the same way it concluded the last one -- with a loss in North Carolina. In March, the Sun Devils capped the most
successful season in school history with a 64-45 loss to Rutgers in
the Greensboro Regional final.
While Arizona State didn't lead in this one after roughly the
midpoint of the first half, the Sun Devils kept things tight for
most of the way. They were within one point at halftime and trimmed
it to 52-51 on Orsillo's 3 from the left wing with 13:34 left.
Then, the Sun Devils got sloppy and the Tar Heels took over.
Breland's steal and coast-to-coast layup sparked a 13-2 run, a
burst that ended when her three-point play with 7:26 to play made
"I don't think we made them play defense when they made their
run," Turner Thorne said. "We shot quick, we turned the ball over
and we didn't play smart."
McCants established a career high in scoring for the second
straight game, surpassing the 17 points she had Friday in the Tar
Heels' season-opening 109-32 victory over North Carolina Central.
North Carolina briefly led by double figures in the first half,
taking a 37-27 lead on McCants' jumper with 4:18 to go, but Arizona
State pulled to 43-42 at the break after Orsillo's 3-pointer from
the left corner at the 10-second mark.