No. 5 Tennessee beats LSU in SEC opener
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)—It had been nearly 12 years since Tennessee went a game without hitting a 3-pointer.
It hardly mattered for the fifth-ranked Lady Vols, who didn’t need make any 3’s in their 73-65 victory over LSU on Sunday that was Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Kelley Cain and Glory Johnson scored 19 points while 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.
“It’s OK,” Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. “We leave here with a ‘W’.”
“We didn’t give them many good looks but they didn’t need to shoot the three ball,” LSU coach Van Chancellor said. “When you can score like Cain and Johnson inside why would you shoot the three ball. That’s why she’s (Summitt) the coach of the lifetime.”
Tennessee (13-2, 1-0) shot 50 percent for the game (27 of 54), held a 42-31 rebound edge and further bolstered its play with 83 percent shooting (19 of 23) from the free throw line and a 46-24 edge in points scored in the paint area.
Meighan Simmons, Angie Bjorkland, Shekinna Stricklen and Tabor Spani combined for 14 points. Bjorkland went scoreless for the first time this season and first time in almost two seasons.
“I think depth has been very, very good to us,” Summitt said. “We know we can keep bodies fresh and rotate them. Kelley did a great job. I told her she can have tomorrow off, but she still has to be around the team and practice. I’m really proud of her. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to play today.”
Cain, has been bothered by a nagging hip injury, matched her career high for points. She also had eight rebounds and four blocks in 29 minutes.
“I think when Cain sees LSU lights just go off,” Chancellor said. “She thinks St. Claus is coming because she scores against us. She had a great game for them. She’s a load for us to guard.”
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. 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.
“I’m really pleased with the defensive intensity,” Summitt said. “I thought we did a lot of things that were very positive for us. To be 19 of 23 from the free throw line was big as well as getting paint points and getting in there and doing what we had to do. I’m just really proud of this team. It was obviously a big win for this team.”