KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Already leading Tennessee in scoring, Angie Bjorklund still heeded coach Pat Summitt’s suggestion that the Lady Vols spend some extra time in the gym shooting this week.
It certainly didn’t hurt. Bjorklund, who entered the game averaging 14.9 points, scored all but three of her 19 points in the first half as No. 4 Tennessee beat Old Dominion 102-62 on Wednesday night.
“If you said what player you think has worked the hardest to get where they are right now it’s Angie Bjorklund,” Summitt said. “I think other players are recognizing what she can do on the floor.”
Bjorklund, who scored a career-high 29 points a season ago at Old Dominion, hit an early 3, a fastbreak layup and a fadeaway jumper as the Lady Vols (11-1) scored the first 11 points of the game. She hit one final 3-pointer for the first basket of the second half, earning some rest time for much of the second half.
With 70.3 percent shooting, Tennessee led 57-31 at halftime. Old Dominion (2-8) hit just 33.3 percent of its first-half shots.
“I asked Pat for the fire extinguisher at halftime,” Lady Monarchs coach Wendy Larry joked. “I think Angie Bjorklund has distinguished herself as one of the best there is. She certainly put on a clinic in the 20 minutes she played.”
As the Lady Vols’ veteran, Bjorklund’s hard work has also lit a fire beneath many of her teammates, Summitt said. All players put in some extra time in the gym after shooting just 32.8 percent in a 67-52 loss at No. 2 Stanford on Dec. 19.
Glory Johnson recorded her eighth career double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for Tennessee. Alyssia Brewer scored 16 points, and Briana Bass and Kamiko Williams both added 11.
“Just an extra 200 to 300 shots before or after practice really helps,” Bjorklund said. “It helps mentally too.”
Jasmine Parker led the Lady Monarchs with 13, and Tia Lewis scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Shadasia Green added 12 points.
Tennessee got a scare when two-time Southeastern Conference player of the week Shekinna Stricklen awkwardly landed on the floor after grabbing a rebound and left the court clutching her right knee. Initial tests showed her injury was not serious and she will be day-to-day as the Lady Vols prepare to face No. 14 Oklahoma on Sunday.
It was the 43rd meeting between the traditional women’s basketball powerhouses, but the Lady Vols have won 14 straight and hold a 34-9 lead over the Lady Monarchs dating back to 1977.
Old Dominion has had a tough nonconference road, facing teams such as Stanford, Maryland, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Louisville before making the trip to Knoxville.
The Lady Monarchs open Colonial Athletic Association play Sunday at Delaware and they hope that the especially tough schedule helps them cruise to an 18th conference championship in 19 seasons.
“I haven’t played in the CAA, I’ve only watched it. From what I’ve seen it’s aggressive but not as aggressive as the teams we’ve played,” Lewis said.
Summitt, in her 36th season and Larry, in her 26th season, have developed a strong friendship over their history of playing each other. Larry attended a celebration in Knoxville in May honoring Summitt and her 1,000 career wins wearing an orange blouse and carrying and orange purse.
“Took them back,” Larry said. “I left the tags on.”