After recording their best season in school history at the Division II level, the Tarleton State TexAnns entered the 2010 campaign with high expectations.
The TexAnns looked every bit the team that received seven first-place votes in the official Lone Star Conference preseason poll in Saturday's season opener, even if was just NAIA-member Texas Wesleyan on the other side.
Tarleton (1-0) had no problem knocking off Wesleyan (1-1), cruising the whole way to a 74-46 win in front of 2,208 at Wisdom Gym, where the TexAnns have now won 15 straight home openers.
"We played a very good team," said head coach Ronnie Hearne. "They're very athletic and are hard to guard. I'm surprised we beat them by that much.
"We played hard and played pretty well together," he added. "But we made too many mistakes with the basketball. We have to work hard to improve those turnovers and offensive rebounds."
Texas Wesleyan got on the board first with a free throw from Kristi Alexander, but a layup by Tarleton junior Shelby Adamson gave Tarleton a lead it would not relinquish.
After the Adamson bucket, Tarleton went on a 12-1 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes to lead 14-2.
The two teams played close over the remainder of the first half and Tarleton went into halftime with a 37-22 lead.
Over the first 12 minutes of the fresh half, the lead for Tarleton never went above 25 or below 18.
At the 6:59 mark, however, senior Sonya Sundberg drained a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 63-35.
Senior Kelsey Benford added a free throw and freshman Bri Bledsoe connected on the first 3-pointer of her Tarleton career to pad the lead to 67-35.
The TexAnn lead was at least 28 points the remainder of the game.
Adamson led all scorers with 15 points on 6-7 shooting while collecting four rebounds and four assists.
Junior Morgan Stehling tacked on 14 points before fouling out with 4:30 left in the game. Sundberg and Benford each cracked double digits with 12 and 10, respectively.
"When you've got three guards (Adamson, Sundberg and Stehling) like that, it gives you a comfort level," said Hearne. "Then we had Bri (Bledsoe) and Lisa (Parker) play well off the bench, and when Tara (Towns) gets back, we'll really have some quality depth."
Tarleton shot 48-percent (25-52) from the floor while holding Wesleyan to just 29-percent (15-51)
The TexAnns won the rebounding battle 38-36 and outscored Wesleyan in the paint 34-14.
Tarleton has five freshmen on the roster, most of which saw extended time including Kiara Wright, Bledsoe and Crystal Atwood.
"I thought they really stepped up tonight," said Hearne. "They looked comfortable against Texas Wesleyan's quickness and with a big crowd here. I didn't see any intimidation at all, and that's what you like to see from freshmen."
Bledsoe, a 2010 Stephenville High School graduate, led the freshmen with seven points while Wright tacked on six. Atwood and Kimber Koonsman each had two.
"It was a good start to the season, but we're going to be playing an even better team on Thursday," said Hearne.
That's when the TexAnns host NAIA-power Lubbock Christian at 7 p.m.