KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Nicky Anosike’s family arrived just after halftime to see her play in her final home game at Tennessee on Thursday night.
By then she and the third-ranked Lady Vols had already taken care of business.
“They are always late. I expected that, and I was prepared for it,” she joked after her family’s flight from New York was delayed.
Anosike was one rebound shy of a double-double when her family arrived. She finished with 15 points and tied a season high with 12 rebounds as Tennessee beat Florida 88-61.
Candace Parker and Alex Fuller scored 18 points each on the night the Lady Vols (26-2, 12-1 Southeastern Conference) honored their five seniors, including Parker, who will skip her final year of eligibility.
Angie Bjorklund added 14 points, and Vicki Baugh had 11.
The Lady Vols scored 40 points in the paint, outrebounded the Gators 57-35 and forced them to tie a season high with 29 3-point attempts.
“I felt like we were a little more passive in the paint than we should have been,” Florida coach Amanda Butler said.
Sha Brooks led Florida (16-12, 5-8) with 27 points. She made a career high seven 3-point field goals out of 11 attempts.
“I love playing in front of a lot of people. I love showing what I can do and showing what my team can do,” she said.
Tennessee’s 57 rebounds were a season high.
The teams traded baskets for the first four minutes before Tennessee launched a 16-2 run. Candace Parker hit a quick layup with 7:57 to put the Lady Vols up 25-8, prompting Florida to call a timeout.
Tennessee expanded its lead with the help of 3-point shooting from Angie Bjorklund, who finished 4-for-7 from behind the arc, and went into halftime with a 46-26 lead.
Earlier in the week, Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt forced her players to watch a replay of their uninspired 72-46 win over Mississippi State.
“I was really pleased with the energy we played with tonight,” she said. “Obviously, I’m proud of our seniors, but they are not finished yet. They have to focus on closing out the regular season and playing in the SEC tournament.”
Florida made 11 of 29 3-pointers, but it wasn’t enough to counter the Gators’ 32.8 percent field-goal shooting or close the gap on Tennessee in the second half.
The Gators are 0-4 against ranked teams this season.
“Our goal every night is to get better and make progress,” Butler said. “There were some areas tonight where we didn’t make progress, so that’s very disappointing.”