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The Daily Tar Heel

Women's Basketball Takes Charge Early

The Tar Heels jumped out to large halftime leads and cruised to win their first two games of the season.

The North Carolina women's basketball team pressed and trapped. It scored in the lane and beyond the

3-point arc.

It looked like the team UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell had praised throughout the preseason. At least in the first half.

The Tar Heels grabbed a 17-point halftime lead before cruising to a 89-69 win against Evansville at Carmichael Auditorium in the second round of the 2001 Preseason Women's National Invitational Tournament.

The victory followed a season-opening, 77-59 North Carolina win Friday night against George Mason in the tourney's first round.

In each game, North Carolina (2-0) used extended runs at the beginning of the first half to put away its opponents. But all weekend, the Tar Heels struggled to maintain their poise and offensive flow after the break.

"We made a lot of mistakes," Hatchell said Sunday. "The second half, we didn't come out of the locker room with the defensive intensity that we needed to, and we let them get on a roll."

But the first half against Evansville (1-1) was all Nikki Teasley. The senior guard made her first appearance as a Tar Heel in nearly 20 months, and she didn't disappoint. After Teasley entered the game four minutes, one second into the half, UNC went on a 16-0 run to take a 25-7 lead.

Teasley's slashing moves to the basket and pestering defense wreaked havoc on both ends of the floor. She scored six points and dished out five assists as the Tar Heels built a 49-32 first-half advantage.

The rest of the Tar Heels got into the first-half act, as well. With the smaller Purple Aces collapsing on UNC center Candace Sutton, guard Coretta Brown found open looks and shot 4 of 6 from the field en route to 10 points before halftime.

"You kind of have to decide which way it's going to go," said Evansville coach Tricia Cullop. "Once they start knocking down 3s, it does deflate you mentally."

While UNC was busy shooting nearly 58 percent, Evansville was just trying to get into its offense and retain possession. Purple Ace point guard Latasha Austin turned the ball over nine times in the first 20 minutes against UNC's full-court trap.

"We were aware of what (Austin) could do," Teasley said. "Coach said everything goes through their point guard, so it's real important that we get pressure on her."

But after a quick second-half spurt, the Tar Heels hit a wall. When Teasley fired a quick outlet pass to Brown, who found a streaking Nikita Bell for a transition layup, UNC held a 28-point advantage with just under 13 minutes remaining.

Eight minutes and a whole slew of North Carolina mistakes later, Hatchell angrily called a time out when Evansville's Julie Shirley buried a right-corner 3 to cut the lead to 77-59.

"We were not matching up," Hatchell said. "I don't think we had a leader out there at the time that was making sure the freshmen were matched up in transition and were talking."

Regardless, the UNC lead was too great. The Tar Heels stayed under control the rest of the way and secured a date with Connecticut in a semifinal Thursday.

"I like this team. No, I love this team," Hatchell said. "They play like I like to play. We're going to be fun to watch."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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