NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The North Carolina Tar Heels won by 35, and went away concerned about their intensity level.
The top-seeded Tar Heels began their game against 16th-seeded Bucknell with a 21-2 run and then sloppily coasted to an 85-50 victory in the first round of the New Orleans regional.LaToya Pringle had 19 points and Erlana Larkins and Rashanda McCants had 15 each as the Tar Heels -- a No. 1 seed for the fourth year in a row -- won their 14th straight. They will play Georgia in the second round Tuesday night."It's good to get the first win and gel together and get our chemistry right for our next game," McCants said. "We definitely have to work on our intensity level."Seeking their third consecutive Final Four appearance, and with designs on finally getting past the semifinals, No. 2 North Carolina (31-2) had all the intensity it needed in the first 7½ minutes to keep Bucknell from ever thinking upset.The Bison (16-16), making only their second appearance in the tournament, missed 15 of their first 16 shots, trailed 48-25 at halftime and never got any closer, even with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell substituting liberally in the second half.But after the early blitz, the Tar Heels got sloppy, finishing with 20 turnovers."We have to not look at the scoreboard," Erlana Larkins said. "Coach Hatchell tells us that all the time. It's not about the scoreboard. You just keep playing hard."Lauren Schober led the Bison with 13 points, but missed 12 of 16 shots, and Bucknell's top three scorers all struggled. Hope Foster was 1-for-10 and scored three, Amanda Brown was 3-for-10 and scored six, and Kesha Champion was 3-for-17 for eight points."We had plenty of open looks," Champion said. "It was like having a cap on the basket."Bucknell coach Kathy Fedorjaka told her players beforehand that she wouldn't try to fool them into thinking they had as much talent as the Tar Heels, and everyone in the Constant Convocation Center could see very quickly that the disparity was huge.With Pringle and Larkins scoring at will inside, and Pringle swatting away several early attempts by the Bison, the Tar Heels took a 16-0 lead in the first 4:17. After Brown's putback finally got Bucknell on the board, the Tar Heels scored five more."They were extremely athletic, extremely quick and we were down 16-0," said Fedorjaka, who used a timeout just before a media timeout was to be called to get her team to regroup. "We talked about competing and staying together. We could have folded right there, and I was pretty proud of our play over the next 10-12 minutes of the half."The Tar Heels, after leading 33-23, closed the half on a 15-2 run.Pringle finished with five blocks in just 21 minutes and broke Dawn Royster's career record of 329 at the school, set from 1983-87. Pringle now has 331, and thought a few quick ones in the opening minutes helped spark the intimidating start."Once you block a couple, people get a little timid to come inside," she said.Even when North Carolina got sloppy, committing 12 first-half turnovers, and even when the Bison's shooters shook off their jitters and started making open shots, the Tar Heels outscored them 27-23 over the last 12½ minutes heading into halftime.The Bison shot 27 percent in the half and got worse, finishing at 26.7 percent.In the second half, Larkins scored inside, Pringle swatted away her fifth shot of the game and made two baskets from in close in a 7-2 run, and it was essentially over.Bucknell, which won the Patriot League tournament as the No. 5 seed, had won six of seven, but failed to become the second No. 16 seed to win a game. Harvard, which beat Stanford at Stanford in 1998, is the only No. 16 seed to win a tournament game.