Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lady Vols 72 - Arkansas 53

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Shekinna Stricklen matched her career-high of 26 points to lift No. 5 Tennessee to a 72-53 win over Arkansas on Sunday.

Stricklen, from Morrilton, Ark., matched her season high of 18 points in the first half to help the Lady Volunteers (21-2, 9-0 Southeastern Conference) win their 12th straight after an overtime loss at Baylor on Dec. 14.

Tennessee led 39-27 at halftime, sparked by an 8-0 run to close out the period. Stricklen capped the first-half scoring with her fourth 3-pointer, during which the Lady Volunteers were 7 of 14 from behind the arc. They finished 9 of 18 on 3s, with Stricklen connecting on six.

Arkansas (16-5, 4-5) opened the second half with a 10-2 run to close within 41-37. Sarah Watkins had five of her 15 points during the spurt, but the Razorbacks couldn’t stick with Tennessee largely because they couldn’t hang tough on the glass. They were outrebounded 42-23.

After falling out of the rankings last week, Arkansas rebounded Thursday with a win at LSU. The Razorbacks played like that team early against the Lady Volunteers, much like they did earlier this season during home wins over then No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 10 Kentucky.

Arkansas led 10-8 early after an inside basket by Watkins, who finished with eight points in the first half. Tennessee took the lead for good at 13-10 after a 3-pointer by Taber Spani, but the Razorbacks stayed close for much of the rest of the half.

Lyndsay Harris pulled Arkansas to within 31-27 late in the half with a layup, but the Lady Volunteers finished with a flourish. Spani, who finished with 18 points, hit a 3-pointer with 2:13 remaining in the half and she followed that with another jumper 25 seconds later.

Stricklen then added her 3-pointer to close out the half and put Tennessee up 39-27.

After Arkansas’ run to open the second half, Spani started a 9-0 Tennessee run with a pair of free throws to put the Lady Volunteers comfortably back up 50-37.

Glory Johnson, who finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds, had a pair of baskets during the run and Tennessee led by double digits the remainder of the game.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No. 5 Tennessee beats Mississippi State 81-55

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Glory Johnson scored a career-high 22 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and dished out seven assists as No. 5 Tennessee overcame first-half struggles to beat Mississippi State 81-55 on Thursday night.

The Lady Bulldogs have never beaten the Lady Volunteers (20-2, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) in 32 tries but held a 37-35 lead at halftime after shooting 46.9 percent from the field, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range. They entered the game averaging just 37 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

Meighan Simmons hit a 3 just 10 seconds after halftime for Tennessee, which pulled away after scoring 18 unanswered points to open the second half.

Taber Spani scored 18 points, Simmons added 12 and Kamiko Williams 10. Shekinna Stricklen had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Diamber Johnson led the Lady Bulldogs (8-11, 0-7) with 19 points.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No. 5 Tennessee 73 - Auburn 53

AUBURN, Ala. — No. 5 Tennessee overwhelmed Auburn with tall bodies, and lots of them.

Shekinna Stricklen scored 18 points and Glory Johnson had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Lady Vols to a 73-53 victory over the smaller Tigers on Sunday for their 10th straight win.

“I think it was clear we had the size advantage,” said the 6-foot-3 Johnson, who helped Tennessee to a 49-34 rebounding edge. “And whenever we use it to the best of our ability, we dominate. Just having everyone fresh, scoring and getting rebounds, it was amazing.”

The impact was certainly evident late in the game. The Lady Vols (19-2, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) used a late 19-4 spurt to pull away, even with leading scorer Meighan Simmons held to five points.

Stricklen helped overcome the freshman’s subpar outing with her second straight big game. She made 8 of 14 shots after getting 18 points and 16 rebounds Thursday night at South Carolina.

Johnson and Kelley Cain powered a dominant performance around the basket against the Tigers (12-8, 5-2). The 6-foot-6 Cain had nine points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals against a team that had only one contributor—6-3 Blanche Alverson—above 6-2.

“Any time you go on the road, if you don’t pack your defense and board play you can lose at any given time,” Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. “And I think our team has finally bought into that. We had a lot of good things from a number of different players. I think our depth has really contributed to the success we’ve had. And also this team is very unselfish and also very, very committed to our defense and our boards.”

Vicki Baugh added nine points in just seven minutes to help Tennessee’s bench outscore Auburn’s reserves 26-6.

Auburn had no answers for the versatile Stricklen, who had six rebounds and hit two 3-pointers.

“Not a lot of people can stop her,” Johnson said. “Just having her confidence, and whenever she’s finishing, she’s unstoppable. Whenever she has confidence, that also brings energy to the rest of the team.”

Alli Smalley and Morgan Toles led Auburn with 13 points. Jordan Greenleaf added 10 points and nine rebounds.

Tennessee shot 43 percent (28 for 65) while holding Auburn to 34 percent (23 for 67), mostly forcing the Tigers to rely on jump shots.

The Lady Vols scored 18 fast-break points, repeatedly dumping the ball inside or scoring on drives.

“I think they’re playing a style of basketball that’s really tough to guard, wears you out and then they keep bringing players off the bench that keep putting pressure on you,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. “I thought our transition defense was not good today, led to about 18 points for them. And our boxing out—18 offensive boards are not going to win you a lot of games if that’s what you’re giving up. We’ve got a lot of work to do to stay in a ballgame with them, that’s for sure.”

Simmons, who came in averaging 16.2 points, made just 1 of 8 shots and didn’t score until hitting two free throws with 4:39 left in the game. She did have a nice behind-the-back assist in the first half.

The Tigers cut a 19-point deficit to 52-42 at the midpoint with a reverse layup by Toles, but Tennessee scored the next 10 points and limited Auburn to one field goal over the next 6 minutes. Johnson’s layup pushed the lead to 25 points.

“When you play against them, you’ve got to make them pay for the breakdowns and defensive mistakes,” Fortner said. “The run was nice, but when we cut it to 10, we didn’t show a lot of poise at that point to say, ‘Now it’s a ball game.”’

Smalley hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer that finally gave the Auburn fans something to cheer about. But it was the only 3 the Tigers made in 10 attempts other than Alverson’s 3-for-9, nine-point performance.

The Lady Vols had closed the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 34-19 lead even though both Angie Bjorklund and Simmons failed to score. Bjorklund finished with seven points, 4.5 below her season average.

Taber Spani had a steal and fast-break pass to Johnson for a layup for the final points with 1:18 left.

The Tigers missed 10 of their last 11 shots going into the half, and never got the margin back into single digits.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lady Vols 71 - South Carolina 56

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Shekinna Stricklen had 18 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help No. 5 Tennessee win its 39th straight over South Carolina, 71-56, on Thursday night.

The Lady Vols (18-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) haven’t lost to the Gamecocks since 1980 and didn’t look like they’d have much trouble in this one as they led 57-45 with 6:44 to go.

But South Carolina (10-9, 2-4) scored seven straight points to cut into Tennessee’s lead.

That’s when Meighan Simmons regained control for Tennessee with a pair of foul shots that started a closing 14-4 run. Simmons had 16 points, all in the second half.

Stricklen posted her sixth double-double of the season and third in four games.

Ieasia Walker had 24 points to lead South Carolina. She also had eight rebounds before fouling out in the final minutes.

Simmons missed her two shots in the first half as Tennessee struggled to get clear of the Gamecocks. When she finally got going, however, so did the Lady Vols. Simmons, who coach Pat Summitt calls the fastest player she’s ever had, scored 10 points as Tennessee opened a 54-42 lead midway through the second half.

And Simmons was there again after South Carolina’s final run, beating the defense into the lane and getting fouled to start Tennessee’s closing push.

Kelley Cain also had a double-double for the Lady Vols with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Tennessee has had its way in the series for more than three decades since last losing to South Carolina nearly 31 years ago. But the Lady Vols got a huge walk up call here a year ago when the Gamecocks scored the game’s first 13 points and led for 35 minutes before Tennessee rallied to a 60-55 victory.

The margin was the closest in the series since 1990 and seemed to signal a new rival for the powerhouse Tennessee.

The offseason, though, was not kind to the Gamecocks, who saw SEC newcomer of the year in 6-foot-5 Kelsey Bone transfer to Texas A&M. More recently, the Gamecocks lost another highly regarded prospect in freshman Kayla Brewer to Texas.

Still, South Carolina threw all it could at the Lady Vols.

The Gamecocks led 12-4 as La’Keisha Sutton continually beat Tennessee’s players downcourt for easy buckets.

The Lady Vols’ size—they started four players 6-1 or taller; South Carolina has no one on the roster taller than that—gradually wore down the Gamecocks.

Tied 26-all with three minutes in the half, Tennessee closed with 7-0 run. Stricklen and Alicia Manning had close-in baskets and Angie Bjorklund hit a 3-pointer as time ran out for a 33-26 lead.

The Lady Vols outrebounded South Carolina 25-13 over the first 20 minutes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No. 5 Tennessee beats Vanderbilt 68-56

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Meighan Simmons scored 17 points as No. 5 Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 68-56 on Saturday night to remain perfect in Southeastern Conference play.

The Lady Volunteers (17-2, 5-0) went on an 18-0 run in the first half during a 9:22 Commodores scoring drought to take a 21-5 lead. They took a 50-28 lead in the second half on a 3-pointer by Angie Bjorklund with 11:27 left.

Bjorklund and Glory Johnson each scored 14 points, Kamiko Williams hit 13 points and Kelley Cain grabbed 13 rebounds.

The Commodores (12-6, 3-2) used 48.6 percent shooting after halftime, hitting 5 of 9 from 3-point range, to chip away at Tennessee’s lead. Jasmine Lister hit a 3 with 1:04 left that cut the margin to 64-56, but it was as close as Vanderbilt would get.

Lister had 17 points for Vanderbilt, which dropped to 0-26 against Tennessee in games played in Knoxville.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No. 5 Tennessee dominates Florida 83-40

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Angie Bjorklund scored 16 points, Meighan Simmons added 14 and No. 5 Tennessee drubbed Florida 83-40 on Thursday night.

The 43-point margin was the third-most lopsided game in series history.

The Lady Vols (16-2, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) dominated every aspect of the game, building a double-digit lead early, getting out to a 32-point advantage at halftime and coasting the rest of the way.

The Gators (12-6, 2-2) trailed 47-15 at the break and didn’t make it any closer down the stretch. Florida shot 20 percent in the first half and had more turnovers (eight) than baskets (six).

Glory Johnson finished with 12 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Vols, who have won 41 of 44 in the series. Shekinna Stricklen added 11 points and 12 boards.

Brittany Shine led the Gators with seven points.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Lady Vols Top Ole Miss 86-46

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt expects Shekinna Stricklen to be a team leader and an All-American. Problem was, she wasn't playing like either.

So Summitt had what she called a "prayer meeting" on Saturday with Stricklen, who averaged just 6.5 points and three rebounds in wins against LSU and Alabama, to remind her of her role. Stricklen responded with 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Lady Volunteers to an 86-46 victory over Mississippi on Sunday.

"All I can say is coach chewed me out," Stricklen said. "We had a good long talk." Stricklen admitted she thought her role had changed a bit this season since she's playing inside more and the Lady Vols (15-2, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) have been scoring more consistently. Summitt assured her she's still allowed to shoot from wherever she feels comfortable and is expected to be aggressive on defense.

"I had a prayer meeting with her, and my prayers were answered," Summitt said. With Stricklen playing well, Summitt had no complaints about Tennessee's 21st consecutive win over the Ole Miss. The Lady Vols are playing with the kind of consistency she has demanded of them for nearly two seasons and have been dominating their opponents as a result.

Tennessee logged their fourth blowout in five games, outscoring opponents by an average 37.6 points and shooting 50 percent or better in that stretch. "We want the team to set the bar at the same place our staff has set the bar," Summitt said. "They're starting to buy in and take ownership, and when you take ownership great things happen."

The Rebels (8-6, 1-1) have recorded at least 40 rebounds in 10 games this season, but the Lady Vols limited them to 31 while grabbing 53 of their own. They also held Mississippi to 26.6 percent shooting.

Tennessee also brought a balanced offense that shot 50 percent with Meighan Simmons also getting 18 points, Taber Spani adding 14 and Glory Johnson contributing 10.

Tennessee led 16-12 with 9:13 in the first half when they launched a 15-2 run that began and ended with a 3-pointer by Stricklen and gave the Lady Vols a 31-14 lead. A layup by Kamiko Williams just before the buzzer sent Tennessee to the locker room with a 42-22 lead, its largest margin in the half.

Mississippi had six days to prepare for the Lady Vols, but Valencia McFarland was the lone Rebel who seemed to give them trouble in the first half. She got 13 of her team-leading 16 points before halftime.

"The atmosphere was great. I loved it, and I was ready. I tried to use my quickness to my advantage," McFarland said.

Meanwhile, Kayla Melson, who averages 15.5 points and had a career-high 30 points in the victory a 72-67 win against Vanderbilt on Jan. 2, was 0-for-7 at the break. Melson finished with 11 points, and Shae Nelson had 10.

The Rebels have come from double-digit deficits to beat Vanderbilt, Illinois and Gonzaga this season but shot even worse in the second half.

"I was sad we didn't bring the same fight in this game," Mississippi coach Renee Ladner said. "Of course, maybe we were fighting and Tennessee was just too much for us."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Lady Vols-Bama Never Close, 110-45

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Glory Johnson scored 19 points off the bench as No. 5 Tennessee cruised to a 110-45 win over Alabama on Thursday night.

The Lady Volunteers (14-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) have won 37 consecutive games against the Crimson Tide, their second longest active streak against another team. Tennessee has beaten South Carolina 38 straight times.

Alabama (11-4, 0-2) hit only one of its first 13 shots and went scoreless for seven minutes early in the first half. That allowed Tennessee to take a 24-3 lead with 12:16 before halftime off a jumper by Taber Spani.

The Lady Vols used 59.4 percent shooting in the first half to take a 59-22 lead at halftime. They extended their margin to 67 points in the second half before Alabama's Jasmine Robinson hit a jumper to close the game.

Tierney Jenkins led the Tide with 11 points.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Summitt's Star Unveiled on Riverwalk

University of Tennessee Lady Vol Basketball Coach Pat Summitt was the first person honored with a star on the new Riverwalk of Fame during a ceremony on Volunteer Landing today at 11:30 a.m.

Mayor Bill Haslam, in one of his final official acts as the Knoxville mayor before moving cross-state to become the Tennessee governor, was on hand to honor Summitt.

The Riverwalk of Fame - which will stretch along Volunteer Landing - will salute people from Knoxville and the surrounding area who have made a great mark nationally or internationally and in doing so, brought honor to East Tennessee. The honorees can range from writers, musicians, actors, athletes and coaches to scientists, astronauts, statesmen and others of note.

It's anticipated that there will be one ceremony annually at which up to three people would be inducted into the Riverwalk of Fame. Summitt, however, will be the only person honored during this initial ceremony.

Mayor Haslam made the announcement that Summitt would honored after she won her 1,000th game as the Lady Volunteers coach on February 5, 2009.

Each person on the Riverwalk will be honored with a large star that will include their name as well as a small, but significant, symbol of what that person did that made a difference in people's lives. In Summitt's case it will be a basketball.

"We're all proud of Pat Summitt and always happy to have an opportunity to let her know how much she means to us," Haslam said. "She's a great choice to be the person honored with this first star on the Riverwalk."

Susan Richardson Williams approached the City of Knoxville in 2009 with the concept of a Riverwalk of Fame honoring accomplished individuals from Knoxville and East Tennessee. She also suggested to both the city and the University of Tennessee that Summitt would be a great first honoree.

The city's has created a committee and developed criteria for selecting future honorees for the Riverwalk that will include substantial input from the public.

Summitt was a 21-year-old senior at the University of Tennessee-Martin when she was offered the UT job in the spring of 1974. Less than a year later she directed UT to a 69-32 win over Middle Tennessee State University on January 10, 1975, for her first win as the Lady Vols coach. At the time she was also attending graduate school, teaching a full load of classes and getting ready to play for the United States in the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Since then her UT teams have won eight NCAA Women's Basketball Championships, she coached the U.S. Women's Basketball Team to the 1984 Olympic gold medal and all of her players who have completed their eligibility at UT have earned their degrees.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Lady Vols Open SEC Slate with Win

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Kelley Cain and Glory Johnson scored 19 points each to lead Tennessee (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) to a 73-65 victory over LSU on Sunday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Kamiko Williams added 13 points for the Lady Vols (13-2), who didn't hit a 3-pointer for the first time in 422 games. They were 0-for-7 from behind the arc, marking the first time since Jan. 21, 1999 that they didn't hit a 3. Tennessee won that game too, beating Florida.

LaSandra Barrett scored 15 points while Jeanne Kenney added 11 for LSU (10-5). Courtney Jones had 10.

The Lady Vols led 37-35 before going on a 12-0 run early in the second half to break the game open. Meighan Simmons hit four free throws and Cain and Johnson combined for the other eight points during the spurt.

LSU responded as Kenney hit three 3-pointers in a 3-minute span to draw the Lady Tigers within 51-44 with 10:16 left.

They were able to get as close as five points three different times -- the last coming with 5:46 left on Shanece McKinney's turnaround. Tennessee built a 68-56 lead on Simmons' driving bank shot with 1:19 to go and Williams scored seven of her 13 points over the last four minutes of the game.

Johnson scored six of her 13 first-half points during an 11-0 run that enabled Tennessee to turn a six-point deficit into a 27-20 lead with 5:33 left before halftime.

The Lady Vols extended the advantage to 35-25 on Alicia Manning's putback with 1:45 left. LSU closed to 35-29 at the half.