Stricklen, Tennessee women top Georgia, 67-50By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Jan 29, 2012
It was an especially effective strategy when Georgia fell flat after halftime.
Stricklen had 24 points, including six in Tennessee’s 11-0 run to open the second half, and the No. 7 Lady Vols beat No. 17 Georgia 67-50 on Sunday for their second win over the Lady Bulldogs this month.
Stricklen helped Tennessee (16-5, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) pull away after leading by only one point at halftime.
The Lady Vols talked at halftime about a strong start to the second half.
“Come out with energy,” Stricklen said. “We’ve got to push the ball. Get it and go. Don’t waste it. If we get it, everybody run the floor hard.”
Meighan Simmons opened the second half with a 3-pointer to spark the Lady Vols’ 11-0 run. Stricklen followed the 3-pointer by scoring on a drive and had a steal and basket later in the 11-0 run.
Georgia missed its first five shots from the field in the half.
“It seemed like we went back out all of a sudden with no energy,” said Georgia coach Andy Landers.
“Defensively, I thought we stood around for the first two minutes of the second half. I didn’t see the intensity that I would have liked to have seen. We broke down and they got some driving, wide-open layups.”
Ariel Massengale had 16 points, including 13 in the second half, for the Lady Vols.
Meredith Mitchell had 13 points and Jasmine Hassell had 11 for Georgia (16-6, 5-4), which has lost consecutive games and three of its last four.
Following a lopsided 72-44 loss at No. 2 Notre Dame on Monday, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt juggled her lineup in Thursday’s 86-56 win at Alabama. Stricklen, who had a streak of 121 consecutive starts, the longest in the nation, end earlier this month due to an injury, didn’t start against Alabama even though she was available.
Stricklen said she understood the message from Summitt and her staff.
“It was a challenge,” said Stricklen, a senior who started against Georgia. “I think it was a good decision by the coaches. I haven’t been playing to my ability and if I’m not playing to my ability I shouldn’t start. That’s what they did and I agreed with them.
“I wasn’t mad. I stayed positive and I was cheering on my team. This is not about me. It’s whatever best for the team.”
The surprise was Stricklen started at the power forward position instead of at shooting guard or small forward. Stricklen said she liked playing closer to the basket.
“I feel like it’s a good spot,” Stricklen said. “My outside shooting is not working at all right now. It just feels good to be inside, working around the basket.”
Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said the Lady Vols recovered from the loss at Notre Dame.
“We had a tough week,” Warlick said. “We played three games in seven days. They responded. We pushed them in practice and I’m proud of the way they responded.”
Forward Glory Johnson, who 22 points and 13 rebounds in Tennessee’s 80-51 home win over Georgia on Jan. 5, had five points and a team-leading eight rebounds as the Lady Vols completed the sweep of the regular-season series.
Georgia made only 2 of 11 3-pointers in the first half but trailed only 29-28 at the break. The Lady Vols led 19-11 after a 3-pointer by Taber Spani midway through the half. Georgia answered with six straight points, including back-to-back baskets by Hassell.
Tennessee, which committed a season-low eight turnovers against Alabama, had 19 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.
The Lady Vols led 53-37 before Georgia pulled to within 10 at 53-43. Massengale answered with a 3-pointer.
Georgia battled foul problems late in the game. Mitchell was called for her fifth with 1:19 remaining.
Attendance was 10,523, Georgia’s fifth sellout in school history and first since Jan. 14, 2007 against Tennessee.
Jasmine James, a preseason All-SEC pick and Georgia’s point guard, missed her fourth straight game with a sprained right knee.
Landers said James is “very close” to returning.
“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get her well,” Landers said. “We need her. She’s important.”
Georgia made only 5 of 25 shots (20 percent) from the field in the second half and made a season-low 28.8 percent of its shots (17 of 59) for the game.