UT gals handle Vandy
By: By Beth Rucker, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee’s pressure was too much for Vanderbilt.
Candace Parker had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 2 Tennessee to a 79-63 win over Vanderbilt on Sunday.
“We had 29 points off turnovers and that speaks volumes,” Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said. “We want to press as much as possible. It allows us to set the tempo of the game and forces us to stay aggressive.”
Shannon Bobbitt added 14 points for the Lady Vols (16-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) while Alexis Hornbuckle and Alex Fuller both had 10.
Vanderbilt (13-6, 2-2) failed to score in the first 3:15 of the game as Tennessee jumped out to an 8-0 lead. The Lady Vols entered halftime with a 37-24 lead.
The Commodores cut the Lady Vols lead to 21-18 with 5:47 left on a Christina Wirth layup, but Tennessee broke out with a 16-6 run ending as Hornbuckle hit a layup underneath the basket with 22 seconds before the half.
The Lady Vols held their double-digit lead throughout the second half with the help of free throw shooting. Tennessee, a 73.1 percent free throw shooting team, made 18-of-23 attempts while Vanderbilt only sank three of nine attempts.
Wirth kept Vanderbilt from suffering a worse deficit with her 3-point shooting, going 6-for-10 from behind the arc. She finished with 24 points, and freshman Hannah Tuomi had 10 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.
“The coaches have been encouraging me to ’Look for your shot, look for your shot’ My teammates as well, and when I was open they would find me,” Wirth said.
Tennessee forced 24 turnovers and stole the ball 12 times.
“We talked about how defensive pressure and intensity could be a factor before the game,” Hornbuckle said. “Vanderbilt has good shooters. It was a point of emphasis for us to make as many stops as possible.”
The Lady Vols also used their size to control the Commodores, scoring 38 points in the paint and grabbing 39 rebounds to Vanderbilt’s 33. At one point, the 6-foot-4 Parker simply took the ball out of 5-foot-11 Jence Rhoads’ hands as she held it above her head.
Vanderbilt, which ranks as the SEC’s best field goal shooting team and averages 48.4 percent, only shot 34.5 percent from the field in the first half.
“Sixty-something of their points I think we gave them,” Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. “We struggled against their defense. I think offensively we didn’t pressure the basketball and dictate enough, which is what they did to us.”