(1) Tennessee 62, (12) Notre Dame 51
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The only thing normal about Tennessee's victory over Notre Dame was the fact that the Lady Vols won.
Top-ranked Tennessee shot 33 percent from the field and was outscored in the second half, but beat No. 12 Notre Dame 62-51 on Saturday.
Tennessee (12-0), which entered the game averaging 83 points, won by outrebounding the Irish 50-35 and holding Notre Dame to 31 percent shooting.
"Our philosophy has always been you better pack your defense and your board work on the road," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said, "because those ugly nights and those poor shooting nights, you just have to grind games out. Today, we just had to grind it out."
Alexis Hornbuckle had 15 points and eight rebounds, Nicky Anosike added nine points and freshman Candace Parker had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Vols.
Megan Duffy led Notre Dame (9-2) with 19 points, including eight points in the last 4 minutes.
Tennessee led 47-25 with 13:09 left, but Notre Dame went on a 16-4 run to cut the lead to 51-41 with 6:16 remaining. Duffy's jumper trimmed the deficit to 57-51 with 2 minutes left, but Tennessee went 5-of-8 from the free-throw line to end the game.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw liked how hard her the Irish played before a crowd of 11,418, just the third sellout in Joyce Center history.
"I was really proud of our effort," McGraw said. "I felt we really battled. I thought we came out and we were a little nervous in the first half. We're just trying so hard with the crowd."
Tennessee's Shanna Zolman, the Lady Vols' top scorer with 17 points per game, was held to five on 1-of-7 shooting.
"I felt we did a nice job on Zolman, we did a pretty good job on Parker, then Hornbuckle steps up and has a great game," McGraw said. "They just have so many weapons. We tried to limit a couple of them."
Duffy struggled until late in the game. She shot 5-for-18 from the field and 3-for-10 from 3-point range, but scored 14 points in the second half.
"We talked about being aggressive and driving to the basket," Duffy said. "Both teams were in the one-and-one, and we figured we could get some free throws and try to get some points that way. I just tried to look for my shot. We ran a couple of plays to get me free."
Zolman said the Lady Vols let the pressure get to them when Notre Dame made its second-half run.
"I think we kind of took ourselves out of our offense," she said. "After they scored a couple points, we just started rushing and trying to force things and not playing together as a team. They did a great job of stepping the intensity up on defense, I do give them that, but we were taking shots that we didn't need to take."
The Lady Vols forced 15 first-half turnovers to take a 29-14 lead. The Irish (9-2) barely avoided their lowest-scoring half thanks to Courtney LaVere's 3-pointer with 1:09 left before the break. Notre Dame's all-time low of 12 was set in 1981.
LaVere had 10 points before fouling out. The Lady Vols improved to 17-0 all-time against the Irish.
"I just think Tennessee is one of the elite teams in the country," McGraw said. "They rebound better than any team we've ever seen. They just crushed us on the boards, and I think that was obviously the difference in the game."
Another difference might have been Tennessee's confidence level. Zolman said the Lady Vols expect to win every game.
"That's the mind-set we have going into every game," she said. "It's not cockiness, it's just a confidence that no matter who we play, we're going to win, no matter what the circumstances."