Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lady Vols Crunch Virginia, 77-63

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Photo by UT
Angie Bjorklund and Shekinna Stricklen
Tennessee Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt gave her team an early holiday gift after her fifth-ranked team crunched no. 12 Virginia 77-63 before the largest crowd ever to attend a women‘s basketball game (11,895) in Charlottesville Sunday afternoon.

The Lady Vols (3-0) gained readmittance to their locker room at Thompson-Boling Arena for the first time since last February when Summitt barred access to motivate her then struggling team.

Angie Bjorklund, the junior who has developed into the team leader on a senior less squad, scored 24 points while Shekinna Stricklen added 20 followed by Glory Johnson with 14.

Sophomore center Kelley Cain had a six-plicate in points, rebounds and blocks.

The Cavaliers (3-1), who stunned UT 83-82 in Knoxville last season, had trimmed the Lady Vol lead to 42-39 with 18:14 remaining until Bjorklund responded with a momentum killing three point play aided by an assist by Stricklen. UVA All-American Monica Wright, who scored 35 points in the Cavaliers’ upset, fouled Bjorklund who converted her free throw to give UT a 46-39 lead.

UT freshman Taber Spani responded to Bjorklund’s shot with a trey of her own, extended the Lady Vol lead to 10 and the Cavaliers never recovered.

Next up for the Lady Vols is a Thanksgiving Eve meeting with 24th ranked Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro. Game time is scheduled for 8 ET as the Blue Raiders (2-1) and their senior All-American Alysha Clark attempt to defeat UT for the first time in school history. Clark, who was the nation’s leading scorer averaging 27.5 points per game last season, scored 38 in MTSU’s 84-73 victory over Austin Peay Saturday evening.

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