No. 4 Tennessee Holds Off Virginia, 85-73
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Lady Volunteers overcame sluggish defensive play with accurate shooting against a speedy Virginia team.
Coach Pat Summitt still had an earful for them after their 85-73 win.
“How ugly was that? Goodness,” Summitt shouted, carrying her frustration into her postgame news conference. “That was painful to watch. We just came off a 60-point win. We thought we were all that and more. Am I happy that we won? Absolutely. Am I pleased with how we played? Not at all.”
Summitt said the struggles on defense could be traced back to a lack of focus in the film room, for which she took credit as coach. She promised improvement leading up to Tennessee’s meeting with Arizona State on Sunday and said Lady Vols would learn from their “wake-up call.”
“I’d rather have it now than later because we have more tough teams coming up,” Tennessee guard Angie Bjorklund said. “ASU on Sunday is going to be a tough game. We have a couple of days to prepare for that and get a lot better on defense.”
In the meantime, the Lady Vols shot 53.1 percent against the Cavaliers in the first half. Bjorklund, who scored 24 points in a win at Virginia a season ago, made six 3-pointers and scored 26 points.
Shekinna Stricklen added 15 points and Meighan Simmons 12 for Tennessee.
Ariana Moorer led Virginia with 24 points, Paulisha Kellum added 18 and Telia McCall had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Virginia got off to a quick start, hitting its first eight shots and used a 9-0 run to take a 17-9 lead with 15:45 in the first half and controlled the tempo throughout much of the first 20 minutes.
Tennessee switched between its typical man-to-man defense and a zone to slow the Cavaliers down and rally back. A 3-point basket by Stricklen tied the game at 32 with 6:42 left in the first half. The Lady Vols led 41-39 at halftime.
Bjorklund opened the second half with a 3-pointer, launching an 8-0 run that gave Tennessee a 49-39 lead with 15:36 left. Virginia didn’t score until a pair of free throws by Ataira Franklin with 14:39 to go.
“I warned my team that they were going to come out with much better intensity, and I knew that they would come out a little more organized, and sure enough they did,” Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. “I felt like that was where they game was decided.”
The shooting effort remained cool as the Cavaliers hit 41.7 percent of their second-half shots. The Lady Vols pushed the margin to as many as 18 points — enough to sustain a late run by Virginia.
The Cavaliers starters also found themselves in foul trouble early in the second half as Kellum picked up her fourth foul with 16:16 left and Simone Egwu got her fourth with 12:09 to go.
Six of this year’s Cavaliers were around for Virginia’s 83-82 win over Tennessee two years ago in Knoxville.
“I remembered how our intensity was before and during that game, so I wanted to carry that over to this game,” Kellum said. “I think I did that and our team did as well. We showed great leadership on the court.”