Tennessee coach Pat Summitt has seen just about everything in her career. She still takes delight in the success of her freshmen.
Meighan Simmons scored 14 points and Tennessee (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) cruised past Old Dominion 74-44 on Sunday, closing the first half with a full-court press that fueled a 30-14 run.
"It's been pretty amazing to see a freshman that is just fearless and just loves the game," Summitt said. "Did I think Meighan would come in and be a freshman and start? No. I thought, 'It'll take her a while.' It didn't take me long to figure out we didn't need a while.
"We needed yes," Summitt said, "right now."
Tennessee (8-1) led 40-22 at halftime after holding Old Dominion (3-3) almost 3 minutes without a basket during its big run. The Lady Monarchs opened the second half with more energy but still struggled from the field, shooting just 31.6 percent and going 4 for 21 on 3-pointers.
"I have surprised myself," Simmons said. "Like Pat said, she didn't expect it, and neither did I. I don't know. I really can't explain it."
The Lady Monarchs (3-3), who opened the season with a 65-63 win at Georgia Tech and beat Louisville 69-65 on Nov. 26, shot 32 percent for the game and were outrebounded 41-33.
Tennessee, by contrast, heated up behind senior guard Angie Bjorklund, who was scoreless in the first half. She hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Lady Vols' lead to 48-29 about 4 minutes into the second half. Kelley Cain's basket stretched the lead to 21 with 13:10 left.
Simmons, who was 5 of 13 from the floor, came into Sunday's game shooting 48 percent from the floor and 37 percent from long range. She scored 28 points in Tennessee's 99-55 win against Lamar on Dec. 1, setting a single-game record for the Lady Vols with eight 3-pointers.
"She's probably their most versatile offensive player, in that she can take it off the dribble, she's got a mid-range game, and she's got the long ball," Old Dominion coach Wendy Larry said. "It's real difficult to play her anything but straight up."
Shekinna Stricklen had 11 points and Kamiko Williams added 10 for the Lady Vols, who shot 47 percent and committed 18 turnovers -- but forced 22 of them.
Simmons, leading Tennessee with 17 points per game, has scored in double figures in all nine games. Her performance Sunday, which also included a team-best four assists, was highlighted by a spectacular off-balance jumper while falling out of bounds in the first half.
Simmons scored 28 points in Tennessee's 99-55 win against Lamar on Dec. 1, setting a single-game record for the Lady Vols with eight 3-pointers.
Tennessee is now 35-9 all-time against Old Dominion, which got 16 points from senior guard Jasmine Parker. That made her the 28th player in school history to score 1,000.