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

Baugh.

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

percent.

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

left.

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

lead.

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

programs.

Summitt and son Tyler Summitt also announced at halftime they

had created the Pat Summitt Foundation to further raise money for

Alzheimer’s programs.