No. 15 North Carolina 110, North Florida 41

At times, Jessica Breland looked like her old self by

confidently knocking down a turnaround jumper or pulling down

one-handed rebounds in traffic. There were also reminders that

North Carolina’s fifth-year senior will need some time to get all

the way back after missing last season.

Still, with her Hodgkin’s lymphoma in remission, being out on

the court again for a real game was a big step.

Breland had eight points and 11 rebounds in her return to the

lineup and the 15th-ranked Tar Heels beat North Florida 110-41 in

the opener for both teams Friday.

It was Breland’s first official game since a second-round NCAA

tournament loss to Purdue in 2009. In this one, the preseason

all-Atlantic Coast Conference pick had 10 rebounds by halftime but

finished just 3 for 9 from the field in 21 minutes.

”I feel like I need to get in the gym and shoot right now,”

she said. ”I feel kind of down on myself because in any other game

when we start ACC, I can’t have like games like this. I know that

and I know my teammates need me and I need to play a lot better

game.”

Italee Lucas scored 21 points for the Tar Heels, who used a 10-0

spurt late in the first half to blow the game open on the way to

their 10th straight season-opening victory. North Carolina led

46-19 at the break and pushed that margin to 72 points after

halftime.

Behind Breland and Chay Shegog (14 rebounds), the Tar Heels also

took a 65-33 edge on the boards against the undersized Ospreys of

the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Breland missed her first shot, a short jumper from the left

corner that rattled out barely 15 seconds into the game. She got on

the board a few minutes later, taking a pass from Lucas off an

offensive rebound and scoring on a short putaway in the lane at the

15:53 mark of the opening half.

”I think that was a huge emotional lift for them,” North

Florida coach Mary Tappmeyer said of Breland’s return.

Clearly, it will take Breland a little time to knock off the

rust. She confidently knocked down a turnaround shot over Margaret

Bell in the lane in the first half, only to airball a transition

layup midway through the second half with her team holding a huge

lead.

Breland had 14 points and 11 rebounds in just 13 minutes of a

preseason win against Carson-Newman earlier this week.

”She’s still getting the cobwebs out,” UNC coach Sylvia

Hatchell said. ”At times she’s looked really good and the same

thing in practice. It’ll get there. I don’t have any doubt of that.

This was really an off night for her, even in how she’s been

practicing and playing in the other exhibition games.”

Lucas made five 3-pointers to lead the Tar Heels in scoring,

while Shegog, She’la White and Waltiea Rolle each added 11

points.

Leading 23-16 with about 8 minutes left in the first half, the

Tar Heels ran off 10 straight points before Kim Baker’s basket

ended the spurt at the 3:53 mark. But North Florida didn’t manage

another field goal in the half, with the Tar Heels scoring the

final seven points – including Breland’s turnaround shot – for the

46-19 lead on Lucas’ layup a few seconds before the horn.

Brittany Kirkland scored 15 points to lead North Florida, which

fell to 0-8 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.