CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Coming off an eight-day layoff, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell was irritated with her team's sluggish start against Western Michigan.
The Tar Heels only led by nine late in the first half against the sub-.500 team before reeling off a 17-0 run to put the game away."Maybe they had too much warm-and-fuzzies," said Hatchell after the 102-55 win on Sunday that left her three victories short of 800. "We had to have some pretty intense practices after Christmas to get back into gear."Italee Lucas scored 17 points and Jessica Breland added 15 to lead five Tar Heels in double figures and help No. 2 North Carolina improve to 13-0. She'la White had 12 points, including a layup with 1:03 to play that put the Tar Heels over 100 for the third time this season."There was about an 8-minute stretch where we had about 10 open layups that we missed," said Western Michigan's Tasha McDowell. "We went from being aggressive to changing our shots because of their defense. That's 20 possible points we left out there."Lucas said the Tar Heels needed the tough practices to shake off the rust of an eight-day holiday break."We had a lot of competitive drills in practice," Lucas said. "It was tough, but we needed it. We had to get back into that mindset to get into our game mode."Sunday's game against Western Michigan (4-8) was only North Carolina's second contest in a stretch of 12 days, and Hatchell had been unhappy with that other game -- a 68-59 win over Illinois at Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Dec. 20."Normally, we play very well at the beach, but we didn't this time," Hatchell said. "So we had some extremely intense practices leading up to today. Maybe we were a little worn out and had tired legs after those practices."Breland scored seven of her 12 first-half points in the last 4:05 before halftime. Lucas hit five of her first six shots for 11 first-half points and finished 8-for-10 from the field.Breanna Bankston had 13 points, Miame Gidden 11 and Sara Vest 10 to lead Western Michigan (4-8), which suffered its fourth loss in six games.Despite consecutive baskets by Vest in the first 2:10 of the second half, Western Michigan missed 10 of its first 14 shots. North Carolina used runs of 11-0 and 11-2 to pull away.The Tar Heels have 28 straight wins in Chapel Hill and 75 straight over non-conference visitors.