Summitt shot sermon gets ‘Amen’ vs. MTSU
Posted: Friday, December 12, 2008 7:17 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee coach Pat Summitt drilled her seventh-ranked Lady Volunteers this week in shooting, and it showed.
The young Tennessee squad had its best shooting game of the season, including a career-high 20 points by freshman Shekinna Stricklen, in an 81-52 victory over Middle Tennessee on Thursday night.
“We devoted one whole practice this week just to shooting. We were able to get in a lot of reps,” Summitt said. “We’ve been doing so much teaching that I think we’ve suffered a little bit time-wise not getting reps.”
The result was a season-high 52-percent effort from the field and 77-percent shooting at the line by the Lady Vols (7-1). Angie Bjorklund added 16 points for the Lady Vols, and Glory Johnson had 11.
The improvement came as Summitt fielded her youngest starting lineup in history with freshmen Stricklen, Johnson and Briana Bass and sophomores Vicki Baugh and Bjorklund.
“I think we as a team, we’re about to shock the world,” said the 5-foot-2 Bass, whose play energized both her team and the fans. “Even though we’re young, we’re about to bring some heat, so they better get ready for us.”
Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Tennessee return to the Final Four, even after losing all five starters from last year’s national championship team.
“They’re one of the youngest teams in the country, but I thought tonight they played a lot better than I’d seen them on film,” he said.
Despite the Lady Vols’ improved shooting, Insell’s Blue Raiders (5-4) never let them get too comfortable, especially thanks to Alysha Clark’s 28 points. Brandi Brown added 11.
“We knew (Clark) was going to be tough to defend,” Summitt said. “She’s a tough-minded player. She’s tough with the ball. She’s a player that keeps them in the game.”
Tennessee missed its first four shots — grabbing the offensive rebound each time — before Baugh hit a jumper. The Lady Vols jumped out to a 20-6 lead on a jumper by Johnson.
Middle Tennessee starting making shots as Tennessee began missing, hitting 13 straight to cut the Lady Vols’ lead to 20-19 with a jumper by Clark.
Tennessee responded with a 12-1 run.
Alyssia Brewer grabbed two steals in the last minute before the half, using one to set up Stricklen and driving the other to the hoop. Stricklen hit a 27-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Tennessee a 41-23 lead, the largest of the half.
The Blue Raiders threatened again after the half, going on a 17-2 run. Chelsia Lymon’s layup in the paint cut Tennessee’s lead to 55-44 with 8:56 left, but it was as close as Middle Tennessee got.
Lymon fouled out with 7:43 left in the game, leaving the Blue Raiders with sophomore Anne Marie Lanning and freshman Tina Stewart to play at the point.
“We’ve just got to have other players step up,” Clark said. “We can’t have inexperience there. They’re going to have to grow up quick.”