CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Jessica Breland had eight points and 11 rebounds in her return to the court as No. 15 North Carolina routed North Florida 110-41 Friday.
The fifth-year senior sat out last season after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. With the disease in remission, she played for the first time since the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Breland, who averaged 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds as a junior, missed her first shot, a short jumper from the left corner that rattled out 15 seconds into the game. She scored her first points 3:52 later on another short jumper.
Breland looked like her old self for stretches but also air-balled a layup midway through the second half.
"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."
Heralded freshman shines in FSU victory
TALLAHASSEE — Natasha Howard scored 20 in her collegiate debut despite sitting out most of the first half with foul trouble to lead No. 18 Florida State past Alabama State 89-39 in the season opener for both teams.
The 6-foot-3 forward, a McDonald's All-American and Ms. Ohio Basketball as a senior at Toledo Waite High, made 8 of 10 shots from the floor.
Cierra Bravard, a 6-4 junior forward, had 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Seminoles, who opened each half with 18-0 runs and led 64-20 6:17 into the second.
"They're loaded," Alabama State coach Freda Freeman-Jackson said of FSU. "(Howard) is big-time; big and athletic."
No. 2 Baylor 83, FIU 36: Brittney Griner had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the host Bears. The 6-foot-8 sophomore scored five in a row as part of Baylor's 18-0 game-opening run.
No. 4 Tenn. 63, L'ville 50: Freshman Meighan Simmons scored 22 for the visiting Vols in the first game at the KFC Yum! Center. The game set a Big East women's attendance record of 22,124, 3,001 more than when Connecticut played at Louisville on Jan. 12, 2008. Simmons' consecutive 3-pointers and Shekinna Stricklen's layup put Tennessee up 55-44 with 5:11 to go.
No. 5 Xavier 84, S.C. 65: Amber Harris scored 21 for the visiting Musketeers, whose 20-2 run made it 31-12 late in the first half.
No. 7 Ohio St. 84, Temple 75: Preseason All-American Jantel Lavender made 16 of 22 shots to score a career-high 37 for the visiting Buckeyes. Lavender, who also had 12 rebounds, made a layup to start a 15-4 run that put Ohio State up 75-64 with 3:30 left.
No. 9 Kentucky 82, Morehead St. 48: Victoria Dunlap and A'Dia Mathies scored 18 for the host Wildcats, who led just 27-20 at halftime but pulled away with an 18-0 run.
No. 11 West Va. 80, Loyola (Md.) 49: Liz Repella had 18 points and nine rebounds for the host Mountaineers, who forced 33 turnovers and had 15 steals.
No. 12 Notre Dame 99, New Hampshire 48: Devereaux Peters scored a career-high 23 in just 14 minutes for the host Irish, who recorded a school-record 36 steals and forced a school-record 48 turnovers.
No. 14 St. John's 64, Marist 50: Da'Shena Stevens had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Red Storm in the semifinals of the Wildcat Classic. It faces host Kansas State, which beat Grambling State 67-44, today.
No. 17 Texas 92, Miss. Valley St. 60: Ashleigh Fontenette scored 20 for the host Longhorns, who made nine of their first 11 shots (including 6 of 7 3-pointers) to take a 23-3 lead.
No. 22 Iowa 76, Southern 52: Kelly Krei tied a career high with 20 points for the Hawkeyes at the Islander Tip-Off Tournament. Krei scored six during an early 25-5 run for Iowa, which plays the winner of the late game between host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Arkansas State.
No. 23 TCU 96, Houston Baptist 38: Emily Carter scored 26 for the host Horned Frogs. TCU missed its first six shots and trailed 4-0 before scoring 22 in a row, eight by Carter.
Bulls eke out win despite poor shooting
TAMPA — USF dug out of an early 11-point hole then held on for an 82-77 win against Jacksonville in the teams' season opener at the Sun Dome.
Junior guard Andrea Smith scored a game-high 21 in her Bulls debut but on 10-for-29 shooting. Sophomore KaNeisha Saunders had 18 points and a game-high seven assists off the bench.
USF led 67-52 after a 16-3 run, but the Dolphins got within four, mostly on free throws.
USF made 1 of 12 3-pointers and 19 of 34 free throws but forced 26 turnovers.
"It's very disappointing when you shoot that poorly from the field and from the free-throw line," Smith said. "That's something we're going to work on as we move on this year."
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.