Pat Summitt wasn’t in a holiday mood Tuesday night.
The hearty “Happy Thanksgiving” she issued to the interview-room crowd after Tennessee’s 83-56 women’s basketball victory over Western Carolina at Thompson-Boling Arena didn’t match the harsh critique that followed.
“With the number of young players that we have, I guess we should expect some inconsistency,” Summitt said. “I can’t think that way, though. I’m going to demand better from them. We weren’t average tonight. We were below average.”
Not freshman forward Glory Johnson, who matched her season high with 19 points, gathered four steals and blocked a shot in spectacular fashion. Yet she was hearing her coach’s message loud and clear.
“It’s a team effort; it’s not about points,’’ Johnson said. “Vick (Baugh) had my back on rebounds. I only had five rebounds.
“We didn’t play to our ability. As a whole, we could’ve played much better.”
Baugh was thinking along the same lines after recording her second consecutive double-double (11 points, 15 rebounds) and playing 32 minutes in her third game back from reconstructive knee surgery.
“Why coach is so mad is she knows what we can do,’’ Baugh said. “We know what we can do.”
Ninth-ranked Tennessee (4-1) did shoot a season-high 47.5 percent from the floor (28 for 59) and followed suit from the free throw line (23 for 27, 85.2 percent).
Along with Johnson and Baugh, freshman guards Shekinna Stricklen and Briana Bass scored in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
On the other hand, the Lady Vols didn’t play with any consistency against Western Carolina (2-2), which was led by Lauren Powell’s 14 points.
After scoring the most points in a first half (49) since a game at Alabama on Feb. 21 of last season, the Lady Vols spent the second half gathering fouls (14) and turnovers (13). Their lead shrank to 64-47 before a finishing kick across the final eight minutes.
“With this team, they’ll get in a good rhythm and then … it depends on the combination,’’ Summitt said. “The score situation allows us to play more players. In more competitive situations, we’re not going to substitute as freely. Even in the first half, our bench was not ready to come in and maintain the level of play.’’
Johnson and Baugh did their part to set a suitable tone. Johnson scored 15 of her points in the first half. She also made that stunning block, sprinting from the middle of the court and then soaring to block Kendra Eaton’s jumper.
“I was going to try my hardest to get out there and luckily I got a piece of it,’’ Johnson said. “I’m glad I did because you never know when they are going in so you always have to go after them.”
Baugh had nine points and six rebounds before the break. Afterward, she reported no problems with her surgically repaired left knee.
The sophomore forward sounded more like a senior in saying, “What we have to do is continue to pick it up because the teams we are going to play are just going to get better and better.”
Summitt was particularly disappointed with freshman forwards Alyssia Brewer and Amber Gray. After combining for 32 points and 19 rebounds against Louisiana Tech on Sunday, they had eight points and three rebounds against the Lady Catamounts.
“The unfortunate part is that they played like typical freshmen,’’ Summitt said. “Bri (Bass) and Glory didn’t play like typical freshmen and even though Shekinna wasn’t shooting well, she still did good things. I expect more from both of them. They will decide in the next few weeks what they will bring to our team. Tonight was not anything that will enhance opportunities for them.”