Tennessee coach Pat Summitt thinks the Lady Volunteers got a good reminder that all opponents, ranked or otherwise, need to be respected.
Three days after playing passionately in an overtime win against then-No. 3 Stanford, the Lady Vols (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) came out flat against an East Tennessee State team that had only won one of its last five games. They turned up the heat in the second half and pulled away for a 102-53 rout on Wednesday night.
"I lit into everybody at halftime," Summitt said. "They didn't come in with the level of respect that they should. They had one foot out the door."
Tennessee (11-2) scored the first five points and used a 9-0 run to take a 23-11 lead with 12:30 in the first half. The Lady Buccaneers missed some open shots but were able to make it inside to the basket and pulled within eight points twice, but a 3-pointer by Kamiko Williams with 1:42 in the first half helped the Lady Vols take a 46-32 halftime lead.
That wasn't good enough for Summitt.
"Halftime was ... it wasn't pretty," said Angie Bjorklund, who led Tennessee with 16 points. "She definitely got on us, which we needed. Before she even came in we were getting on each other. She basically said we didn't come out with any energy and that the second half needed to be different."
It was definitely different. The Lady Vols turned up the tempo and did a better job of getting the ball inside, where they had a definite size advantage and scored 42 points. After shooting 44.1 percent in the first half, they shot 60 percent after the break.
Bjorklund hit her fourth 3 of the night with 12:30 to go, which tied her with Shanna Zolman as Tennessee's all-time 3-point shooter with 266 treys.
Taber Spani got a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Kelley Cain joined her with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Glory Johnson added 15 points and Meighan Simmons had 13, extending the number of games she's scored in double figures to 13.
ETSU (3-6) struggled with Tennessee's physical play in the paint and was called for 25 personal fouls -- 10 more than the Lady Vols, who hit 21-of-33 from the foul line.
Tennessee outrebounded the Lady Bucs 53-34 and got 20 second-chance points. ETSU also committed 20 turnovers, which Tennessee turned into 26 points.
"We came out and did three of the four things I told them we had to do and that was be smart, play hard and take care of the basketball," Lady Bucs coach Karen Kemp said. "The fourth one unfortunately we were not able to accomplish, and that was knock down open shots. Overall I was pretty happy with the majority of the ballgame."
Destiny Mitchell and Gwen Washington led ETSU with 10 points.
It was the 21st meeting between the two teams, whose rivalry dates back 1924, when the Lady Vols were known as the Volettes. Still, schools took a break from playing after a 98-39 victory by Tennessee on Jan. 8, 1986, and a string of 10 games under Summitt in which Tennessee outscored ETSU by an average 38 points.
"Honestly, I like playing ranked teams because I like the spotlight on our team," Washington said. "Even though Tennessee is the home team, the crowd does get our team into it too. I just like playing in the big crowds. It doesn't make us nervous or anything like that."