No. 6 Tennessee 85, UCLA 64
No matter what the UCLA women did on defense in the first 16
minutes Saturday, it didn’t work.
Things didn’t get much better after that.
Sixth-ranked Tennessee stunned the Bruins by making 18 of its
first 20 shots – many from long range – in rolling to an 85-64
triumph before a sellout crowd of 2,025 at the John Wooden
As might be expected, Tennessee cooled off a bit, shooting just
under 70 percent (36 of 52) behind a balanced attack in which all
five starters scored in double figures.
”Their shooting percentage in the first half was pretty
incredible,” first-year UCLA coach Cori Close said. ”Some of them
were hard shots. They made those shots. Our goal as a defensive
team is to force them to take one hard shot. They made them.
”We didn’t get rewarded by the win today, but it’s a step in
Meighan Simmons scored 18 points; Glory Johnson added 17; Vicki
Baugh had 14 points and 12 rebounds; Taber Spani scored all 14 of
her points in the first half; and Shekinna Stricklen added 11
despite dealing with an illness for the Lady Vols.
”Obviously we shot the ball really, really well,” coach Pat
Summitt said after the Lady Vols threatened to break the school
record of 72.1 percent set against Old Dominion on Jan. 4, 1989
before cooling off. ”When you shoot like that, you feel good. I
think that gave them a lot more energy and a lot more
The win was the fourth straight for the Lady Vols (7-2) and
their 18th in 19 meetings all-time against UCLA. It also raised
Summitt’s career record to 1,078-201.
The 59-year-old Hall of Famer, in her 38th season at Tennessee,
is the only coach in NCAA men’s and women’s basketball history to
reach 1,000 wins. She remains on the job despite having been
diagnosed last May with early onset Alzheimer’s.
Rebekah Gardner scored 15 of her career-high 24 points in the
first half for UCLA (5-4). Markel Walker had 11 points and eight
rebounds and Thea Lemberger added 11 points and six assists for the
Bruins, who outrebounded Tennessee 31-28 and had 19 offensive
rebounds to only four for the Lady Vols.
Of course, when a team shoots like the Lady Vols did, there
aren’t many offensive rebounds to be had.
”It was like a college men’s game. It’s crazy,” Gardner said
of Tennessee’s hot shooting. ”If we take what we learned from this
game, we’ll do good things in the Pac-12.”
Gardner did a lot of good things against the Lady Vols, shooting
9-of-18 including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
”This young lady is the real deal,” Close said of Gardner, the
Bruins’ only senior. ”Professional teams, don’t miss out on
Rebekah Gardner. I’m very proud to be her coach.”
The Lady Vols never trailed, making their first eight shots,
including three 3-pointers, for a 19-8 lead. The Bruins went on a
10-3 run to draw within four points before Tennessee had a 21-9
burst to make it 43-27. The Lady Vols then missed five of six
shots, leaving them shooting 19 of 25 (76 percent) and with a 45-34
lead at halftime.
Tennessee outscored the Bruins 9-2 to begin the second half for
a 54-36 lead. UCLA wasn’t closer than 13 points after that. A layup
by Baugh with 7:29 remaining made it 74-52, with Tennessee shooting
32 of 43 (74.4 percent) from the field at that stage.
The Lady Vols conclude a two-game trip through California on
Tuesday night against No. 4 Stanford (7-1), an 85-66 winner over
Princeton earlier Saturday.
Tennessee played its third straight game without starting point
guard Ariel Massengale, who dislocated her left middle finger
during practice earlier this month. Warlick said she believes
Massengale will return to action soon.
The game was supposed to pit former Tennessee star Nikki
Caldwell against her former team and mentor, but that changed when
Caldwell quit as UCLA coach last summer to take the LSU job. The
Bruins lost to Caldwell and the Tigers 58-41 last Tuesday night in
UCLA, ranked 22nd in the preseason AP poll, is playing without
senior forward Jasmine Dixon, its second-leading scorer and top
rebounder last year. Dixon tore her Achilles tendon before the