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

our process.”

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

Baton Rouge.

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