CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina wasn't at full strength. That's what made it even more impressive.
Laura Broomfield and She'la White scored 14 points each to help No. 5 North Carolina defeat College of Charleston 88-57 Friday in the season opener for both teams.Cetera DeGraffenreid and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added 13 points apiece for the Tar Heels, who played without a pair of projected starters. Forward Jessica Breland is sidelined as she recovers from Hodgkin's lymphoma, and guard Italee Lucas sat out to rest a sore knee.Breland likely will redshirt this season, but Lucas' injury in practice caught the team off-guard."Without Italee, maybe we were a little anxious," said Broomfield, who established career highs with her point total and her nine rebounds. "Maybe unsure is the word. We were unsure how the team was going to vibe without her, but I think we did a good job of picking it up."College of Charleston, which returns its top four scorers from a team that played in the Southern Conference tournament final last season, kept the game close for much of the first half. The Cougars took their only lead at 13-10 on a 3-pointer by Jade Hughes five minutes into the game, and they trailed 22-20 midway through the first half.North Carolina, which won its season opener for the ninth consecutive year, seized control late in the first half. The Tar Heels closed with a 16-2 run over final 6:14 of the period, forcing five turnovers and limiting the Cougars to 1-of-9 shooting from the field during that stretch."I thought especially in the first 10 or 12 minutes of the game that we played well," College of Charleston coach Nancy Wilson said. "Then their size and their quickness just pretty much started taking control. With their pressure, whether in the halfcourt or full, we never really got in an offensive rhythm again."Ericka Williams scored 12 points to lead College of Charleston, which dropped to 0-6 against ranked foes since joining Division I in 1991. Hughes added 11 points for the Cougars, who finished with 31 turnovers.Ruffin-Pratt, a freshman who missed her first six shots as she struggled with a shoulder brace that kept coming unhooked, settled down to finish 6-of-17 from the floor for the Tar Heels. DeGraffenreid scored all her points on free throws, and Broomfield tallied four of UNC's 10 blocked shots."A lot of people stepped up," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We beat a very good team without being at full strength, especially with our perimeter game."