North Carolina's bid for a second women's national championship in a row got off to a convincing start Thursday night with an 89-48 victory over 14th-seeded Western Illinois in a West Regional game in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The 10th-ranked and third-seeded Tar Heels (29-4) got 20 points from Charlotte Smith and 19 from Marion Jones of Thousand Oaks.
"We were tight when we first started. We knew that from our warmups," North Carolina Coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "We weren't quite as loose as we were when we were at the ACC tournament. But once we got things rolling a little bit, we loosened up and we played really well most of the first half, until we got sloppy on defense."
Jones had a season-high nine steals and reserve Gwendolyn Gillingham blocked five shots for the Tar Heels, who had a 44-7 run in beating Western Illinois (17-12).
Tahnee Heins scored 14 of her 20 points in the second half as Seton Hall took a 73-63 victory over Stephen F. Austin at Chapel Hill.
Jodi Hinrichs scored eight of her 16 points in the final six minutes to lift Montana (26-6) to a 57-46 victory at San Diego State (24-6). Also in San Diego, Purdue (22-7) got 21 points from Stacey Loveland in a 74-59 victory over Portland (23-7).
Dana Johnson scored a career-high 34 points to lead top-seeded Tennessee (30-2) to its 61st consecutive home victory, a 96-59 romp over Florida A&M (24-6). Tennessee is 23-0 in NCAA tournament home games. Albena Branzova scored 26 points for Florida International (27-4), which was an 81-76 upset winner over No. 25 Old Dominion (27-6) at Knoxville. . . . Sharon Johnson scored with 2.8 seconds to play as Wisconsin (20-8) came from behind for a 73-72 victory over No. 23 Kansas (20-11) at Lubbock, Tex. Noel Johnson had 20 points for Texas Tech (31-3) in an 87-72 victory over Tulane (19-10), also at Lubbock. . . . Kelly Johnson scored six points and Stephanie Bloomer scored five during a 15-0 run that put No. 15 Arkansas (23-6) ahead for good in a 67-58 victory over San Francisco (24-5) at Seattle, where Rhonda Smith had 19 points to lead host Washington (24-8) to a 73-56 victory over Ohio University (23-7).
Kara Wolters scored 23 points and top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Connecticut (30-0) was a 101-75 winner over Maine (24-6) at Storrs, Conn. Christi Osborne scored 18 points for Virginia Tech (22-8) in a 62-52 victory over St. Joseph's (20-9) in the other Storrs game. . . . Wendy Palmer fueled a second-half surge that helped No. 10 Virginia (25-4) overcome a Dartmouth (16-11) rally and win, 71-68, at Charlottesville, Va. Merlakia Jones and DeLisha Milton each had 16 points for No. 17 Florida in an 89-49 romp over Radford (15-15), also at Charlottesville. . . . LaNae Jones scored a career-high 20 points to lead Oklahoma (22-8) to a 90-55 victory over Loyola, Md. (20-9) in Ruston, La., where Debra Williams scored 18 points to help No. 8 Louisiana Tech (27-4) to a 90-52 victory over Furman (18-12). . . . Tyish Hall scored 22 points for No. 20 Duke (22-8) in a 76-64 victory over Oklahoma State (17-12) at Tuscaloosa, Ala. Niesa Johnson scored 20 points for No. 13 Alabama (21-8) in an 82-55 victory over Mount St. Mary's of Maryland (24-6), also at Tuscaloosa.
De Celle Thomas scored 19 points for No. 2 Colorado (28-2) in an 83-49 victory over Holy Cross (21-9) in Boulder. LaTanya Davis hit a short jump shot with 9.1 seconds to play of Southwest Missouri State's (21-11) 49-47 victory over Utah (23-7), also at Boulder.