No. 4 Tennessee 68, Vanderbilt 49
The rest of the Southeastern Conference has only one more chance
to disprove a conclusion stated by Tennessee coach Pat Summitt
after her team’s 13th straight win.
“I think we have the best team,” Summitt said following No. 4
Tennessee’s 68-49 victory over Vanderbilt in Saturday’s SEC
Added Summitt: “I wouldn’t have know that when the year
Tennessee’s argument for SEC supremacy is looking as strong in
the postseason as in the regular season.
The Lady Vols (29-2) moved within one victory of a sweep of the
SEC regular-season and tournament championships, something they’ve
accomplished six times. They’ll play Kentucky, which beat
Mississippi State 76-65 in the second semifinal game, for the title
on Sunday night.
Tennessee won 15 of 16 conference games in the regular season
before opening the tournament with a 76-51 rout of Mississippi. The
Lady Vols’ third win of the season over Vanderbilt (22-10) was just
Summitt said her players are motivated by sweeping the
regular-season and tournament championships for the first time in
“I think our team is very motivated,” she said. “The regular
season, I think, gave them a lot of confidence and also inspired
them. I think they want more. They want to win here.
“It’s their idea and it works a whole lot better when it’s
Vanderbilt trailed 45-36 following a 3-pointer by Marsh with
9:17 remaining, but Tennessee pulled away with 11 straight
Angie Bjorklund finished with 12 points for Tennessee, while
Hannah Tuomi had 12 points before fouling out and Merideth Marsh
added 11 for Vanderbilt.
The challenge facing the smaller Vanderbilt team was obvious
from the minute starting lineups were announced. Tennessee’s
shortest starter, 6-foot Bjorklund, was as tall as Vanderbilt’s
tallest starters, Tuomi and Tiffany Clarke.
Vanderbilt’s top scoring threat, the 5-foot-6 Marsh, was guarded
by 6-foot-2 Shekinna Stricklen and 6-foot-1 Alicia Manning. Tuomi
was looking up at 6-6 Kelley Cain and 6-3 Alyssia Brewer.
Vanderbilt, playing its third game in three days, couldn’t
overcome the mismatches.
“It’s tough because we know each other so well, and they played
like Tennessee and we didn’t take their strengths away,” said
Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb. “They did a better job taking
our strengths away.”
Tennessee’s superior size showed in the first half when its 12
offensive rebounds equaled Vanderbilt’s total rebounds. The Lady
Vols claimed a 9-0 advantage in second-chance points in the opening
20 minutes, providing the cushion for a 31-22 halftime lead.
Tennessee finished with a 42-27 advantage in rebounds.
Vanderbilt’s best chance was the 3-point shot, but Tennessee’s
defense was ready. The Commodores made only 3 of 17 3-pointers,
including 3 of 11 by Marsh.
“I just thought we really bought into our scouting report
defense,” Bjorklund said. “We knew who were the shooters, who
were the drivers. … I just thought our team did a great job
having that sense of urgency to not let them get the open looks
that they got the last couple games we played them.”