Pat Summitt was looking for a better defensive effort from
fourth-ranked Tennessee. When she wasn’t getting it early against
Arizona State, she benched her best defensive player, Glory
Johnson, for a few minutes.
”She had to step up for us,” the coach said. ”She was
blending in. I got on to her at halftime probably a little tougher
than I should have, but she responded. We need her. She can affect
the game in many, many ways.”
Johnson returned to the game and affected it by turning up the
pressure, grabbing 15 rebounds and scoring 14 points inside as the
Lady Volunteers beat Arizona State 80-64 on Sunday.
Summitt was irate with her players after their 85-73 win over
Virginia because of what she said was an ugly defensive performance
and a mediocre rebounding effort that they covered up with strong
shooting from Angie Bjorklund.
”At first I didn’t understand, but when I was sitting down on
the bench, I was like, ‘There’s a lot I can do to help my team.
Stay focused. Even though I’m getting yelled at, I’m still going to
play my game I can take that and make things positive,”’ Johnson
Both Tennessee and Arizona State used smothering defense in the
first half, but the Sun Devils’ shooting efforts fell apart halfway
through under pressure by the Lady Vols.
The Sun Devils wouldn’t score again in the half after taking an
18-17 lead on a jumper by Adrianne Thomas with 8:38 to go. The Lady
Vols used a 16-0 run during that time to grab a 33-18 lead heading
Tennessee (4-0) took advantage of 11 first-half turnovers by
Arizona State, turning them into 12 points.
Instead of relying on Bjorklund, their senior shooting guard,
the Lady Vols spread the ball around. Shekinna Stricklen led the
team with 18 points, Kamiko Williams and Taber Spani each added 12
and Meighan Simmons had 10.
The Sun Devils (2-1) have relied on their own defense and
rebounding to carry them this season. They limited their first two
opponents to 33 percent shooting from the field while forcing a
combined 46 turnovers and outrebounding their opponents an average
Instead, it was Lady Vols who won the rebounding battle, 45-36,
as they hit 45.6 percent of their shots from the field.
”I’m just very disappointed in our defense,” Arizona State
coach Charli Turner Thorne said. ”We’re not a team that’s a
Arizona State shot 51.9 percent in the second half, but it
wasn’t enough to overcome their 28.6 percent first-half shooting,
and the Lady Vols’ lead never dropped below 13 points after
halftime. Dymond Simon, who has returned to the Sun Devils’ lineup
after sitting out the 2009-10 season recovering from a second major
knee injury, was the only Arizona State player in double digits
with 13 points.
”I think in the first half we were rushing, taking a lot of
off-balanced shots,” Simon said. ”When we went into halftime, our
coaches really emphasized running the offense all the way through,
make sure you look at all your options – especially the post
players. I think we did a very good job in the second half.”