Monday, March 28, 2005

Lady Vols trounce Texas Tech

PHILADELPHIA — Shyra Ely and Loree Moore are beginning to sense the ends of their college careers, and it's bringing out the best in both of them.

Ely took care of the offense, and Moore served as the catalyst on defense as top-seeded Tennessee moved on to the Elite Eight yesterday with a 75-59 win over No. 4 seed Texas Tech at the Liacouras Center.

The seniors are now a win against Rutgers tomorrow night away from advancing to the Final Four in Ely's hometown of Indianapolis.

''They're doing a great job of pushing tempo and trying to be the leaders and take over in March,'' UT freshman Alexis Hornbuckle said. ''They know. They've been to the Final Four. They've been to championships.''

Ely led Tennessee (29-4) yesterday with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting and also pulled down seven rebounds. She scored six consecutive points during a first-half stretch that put Tennessee up 29-14, and the Lady Raiders (24-8) never got within single digits after that.

''I plan on going home next week and playing for a national championship,'' said Ely, the 2001 Indiana Miss Basketball from Ben Davis High. ''It would just be icing on the cake to finish my career where I started and to be in Indianapolis in front of friends and family.

''When we need a bucket or something needs to change as far as defensively or offensively, I wanted to do that so they could count on me. When things are rough, I'm going to come through and lead the team.''

The Lady Vols advance to the Elite Eight for the fourth consecutive year. It will mark UT's 20th regional final overall.

''I think we're one of the teams that can win a championship,'' Summitt said.

Texas Tech, shooting better than 46 percent on the season, shot just 32.8 percent from the floor yesterday, and point guard Erin Grant appeared flustered by Moore's defense from the opening tip.

Moore had nine points, eight rebounds and three steals. Early in the first half, Moore got a steal and fed Shanna Zolman, who touched it back to Moore for a layup and a 15-6 lead.

''(Moore) doesn't get the credit she deserves,'' UT Coach Pat Summitt said after her 881st career victory. ''As a coach, you always look at both sides of the ball. Today, she was terrific on both sides of the ball.''

Tennessee's lead grew to as big as 48-28 in the second half after Ely again scored six consecutive points. On one play, she took the pass off an inbounds and made a running hook shot in the lane with two hands in her face.

''She cannot possibly see the basket,'' Hornbuckle remembered thinking. ''I figured she would miss and get a rebound, but it went in. I was like, 'this is Shyra's day.' ''

The Lady Raiders then went on a final run, closing the gap to 52-41 with a basket by Darrice Griffin.

But Tennessee came right back. A slashing layup by Hornbuckle gave the Lady Vols a 60-43 advantage with 6:29 left.

Hornbuckle had 14 points and seven rebounds. UT freshman center Nicky Anosike had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

LaToya Davis led Texas Tech with 12 points. Tech's best shooter Alesha Robertson went just 2-of-10 from the floor.

''We got great looks but just couldn't knock the shots down, and they were the same shots that we made last week,'' Texas Tech Coach Marsha Sharp said. ''I think it shook our confidence and our ability to get it done.''

The Lady Vols did not make a 3-pointer until Hornbuckle made one in the final minute of the game, but their ability to score with ease inside countered that. Tennessee had 28 points in the paint in the first half, and Ely had 12 points at halftime.

''Shyra knows it's coming down to crunch time,'' Moore said. ''Shyra's really focused on getting to Indianapolis.''

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