No. 1 Baylor 76, No. 6 Tennessee 67
Tennessee had energy and heart. The Lady Volunteers had Shekinna
Stricklen playing like an All-American and a healthy Vicki
What they didn’t have was Brittney Griner.
No. 6 Tennessee couldn’t overcome a strong second-half
performance by the 6-foot-8 Baylor star in a 76-67 loss to the
top-ranked Lady Bears on Sunday.
”We asked our team today, `All we want you to do is have a lot
of heart, play with a lot of emotion and compete,”’ Tennessee
associate head coach Holly Warlick said. ”I think we did that
tonight, but when your back is against the wall, as Baylor, you go
to your money player. They went to Brittney Griner, and we didn’t
have an answer for the last four minutes.”
Griner, an Associated Press preseason All-American like
Stricklen, had just nine first-half points but came live in the
paint after halftime to finish with 26.
Stricklen, led the Lady Vols with 25 points and 12 rebounds and
Baugh added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Taber Spani added 10 points,
and Glory Johnson grabbed 11 rebounds.
Baylor entered the game averaging 53.8 rebounds per contest, but
Tennessee outmanned the Lady Bears on the glass 55-42. The second
chances weren’t enough with the Lady Vols shooting just 29.3
Tennessee took a 39-31 lead on Johnson’s free throw with 17:39
left, but Griner had a pair of layups in an 11-2 run for the Lady
Bears. The second gave Baylor a 42-41 lead with 15 minutes
Baylor (6-0) shot just 34.5 percent in the first half but hit
48.4 percent after the break as Griner fought her way to the basket
more. With every made layup, Griner seemed to relax a little more,
and a layup by Griner with 8:32 to play gave Baylor its ultimate
The Lady Vols tried doubling up on Griner at times, which only
opened up opportunities for Sims and Madden. Sims hit a 3-pointer
with 7:30 to go, and Madden had a trey of her own with 6:21 to play
that gave Baylor a 59-55 lead.
”We worked on different ways on how we wanted to guard her, and
every once in a while we doubled down,” Johnson said. ”We worked
out a few different strategies. She’s a big girl, so she’s able to
finish in the paint very well.”
Tennessee (2-2) pulled within four points off a pair of free
throws by Johnson with 2:03 left but would get no closer. On
Baylor’s next possession, Griner took an in-bound pass with 2
seconds on the shot clock and cleanly sank a jumper from the free
throw line at the buzzer for a 67-61 lead with 1:32 left.
Odyssey Sims added 23 points and Jordan Madden had 11 points for
the Lady Bears, who also beat then-No. 2 Notre Dame on Nov. 20.
They have a Dec. 18 meeting with current No. 2 Connecticut.
”Baylor is a great team, and I don’t think we’ll see one any
better,” Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.
The loss was the Lady Vols’ 21st on their home court since
moving to Thompson-Boling Arena in 1987. It ended a 38-game home
winning streak – their third longest – dating back to a Feb. 16,
2009, loss to Duke.
It also marked the Lady Bears’ third consecutive win against the
Lady Vols, a rare feat by any team.
The game featured seven lead changes and three ties.
Baylor led by as many as eight points in the first half thanks
to 10 of 11 shooting from the free-throw line. Tennessee found its
way to the charity stripe too while fighting for points in the
lane, and a pair of free throws and a 3-point shot by Stricklen
helped erase the Lady Bears’ lead.
Another 3-pointer by Stricklen with 5:51 in the first half
knotted the score at 22 points, and Tennessee controlled the game
through the rest of the half by taking charge of the boards.
”I tried to challenge myself in the past three games and come
out with energy,” Stricklen said. ”That’s something that I think
I can bring for the team. We just came out srong, and we just had a
good first half.”
The matchup was dubbed a ”We Back Pat” game in support of
Summitt, who announced in August she had been diagnosed with early
onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.
Both teams wore purple shirts that said ”We Back Pat” while
warming up, and Tennessee presented $75,000 checks from the
proceeds of T-shirt sales to Alzheimer’s Tennessee and the UT
Medical Center for Alzheimer’s research, treatment and education
Summitt and son Tyler Summitt also announced at halftime they
had created the Pat Summitt Foundation to further raise money for