Saturday, January 05, 2008

(3) Tennessee 87, (14) Notre Dame 63

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt thinks losing to Stanford may have been just what the third-ranked Lady Volunteers needed.

Since then, the Lady Vols have put together back-to-back complete-game efforts, beating No. 15 DePaul by 34 on Wednesday and No. 14 Notre Dame 87-63 on Saturday.

"I think our loss to Stanford got our attention," Summitt said. "I think our team had been a team that would come out and play hard and play well in spurts. But in terms of consistency and sense of urgency, I did not think we had played that way until DePaul. I thought DePaul we had 40 minutes of intensity. I thought we had the intensity here today."

Angie Bjorklund matched a career high with seven 3-pointers for 21 points and Candace Parker added 20 points to pace the Lady Vols. Bjorklund said the Irish left her wide open because they were double- and triple-teaming Parker.

"I think it helps to have five players out there on the court every time who can score," Bjorkland said.

Still, Bjorklund was surprised how wide open the Irish left her. So was Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.

"I think if I was that open I'd probably make them, too," she said. "It's a little easier when nobody's around you."

The Lady Vols (12-1) took control from the start, forcing the Irish out of their normally pressing defense by making their first four 3-pointers, three of them by Bjorklund. Tennessee used a 22-2 run midway through the first half to open a 30-10 lead and were in control throughout.

"I'm incredibly disappointed we weren't able to play our game and certainly their defense was a big reason why," McGraw said.

Parker said she knew with the Irish focusing on her a teammate would step up.

"I like to say, 'Pick your poison.' Because if you're going to double me then it's going to leave someone else open and they're perfectly capable of knocking down the shot or getting to the basket," Parker said.

Tennessee improved to 19-0 all time against the Irish (12-2), who had their winning streak stopped at 10 games.

Nicky Anosike added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Vols and Alexis Hornbuckle had 10 points. Charel Allen led the Irish with 17 points and Devereaux Peters had 10 points and eight rebounds. The Irish shot just 27 percent in the first half and trailed 41-22 at intermission.

"We played scared," McGraw said. "We looked like we were afraid to get our shot blocked most of the game and never really took the shots we normally take."

The Lady Vols were 33-of-66 from the field, the best performance by an opponent against the Irish this season. Behind 7-of-9 shooting by Bjorklund, Tennessee was 11-of-19 from 3-point range, matching a season high for 3s. The 58 percent shooting from 3-point range also was a season best.

"We gave up 33 points from behind the 3-point line. You can't do that against any team, let alone a great team like Tennessee," McGraw said.

A crowd of 11,418 attended the game, the fourth sellout in Notre Dame history. The Lady Vols played in front their third straight sellout crowd.

"The hard part would be to get this team to play well when we didn't have a lot of people in the stands," Summitt said. "I think they thrive on it."

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