SAN ANTONIO — Tennessee concluded its scheduled trip to this city in impressive fashion Tuesday night.
A 91-53 women’s basketball victory over Texas Tech in the ESPNU Classic at the AT&T Center went well enough to at least entertain the thought of a return trip in April for the Women’s Final Four.
“We’re just excited we could be here,’’ UT coach Pat Summitt said. “It gave them a little taste of what it’s all about. Clearly our goal is to be back for the Final Four. It kind of whets your whistle a little bit.”
No. 6 Tennessee (2-0) had four players score in double figures and shot 52.5 percent from the floor. Freshman Taber Spani led with 18, scoring 14 of UT’s 61 second-half points.
Glory Johnson scored 17, shooting seven of eight from the field. The right-hander added a degree of difficulty to her performance, opening Tennessee’s scoring in both halves with left-handed layups.
Shekinna Stricklen scored 16 and Angie Bjorklund added 14, scoring nine in a 25-second span of the second half.
The Lady Vols put together extended scoring surges in both halves. They went on a 20-2 run before halftime and then sprang from the break on 32-4 scoring sprint across the first seven minutes, two seconds. Along the way, they hit 14 of their first 19 second-half shots.
Despite missing reserves Alyssia Brewer and Kamiko Williams — who were left back in Knoxville because of a violation of team policy — Tennessee spread the minutes evenly among its nine available players. Everyone played at least 17 minutes and nobody played more than Spani’s 28.
After playing the full 40 minutes in Sunday’s 74-65 win over Baylor and then playing the first eight-plus against Tech, Stricklen was relieved to log just 23.
“I was really happy about that,’’ said Stricklen, smiling.
On this night, against this overmatched opponent, San Antonio suited Tennessee.
“We really do want to come back,’’ Stricklen said. “We know what it takes to come back.”
Tennessee’s 49-28 rebounding advantage said as much. Alicia Manning played beyond her 6-foot-1 stature in grabbing a game-high nine. Six Lady Vols had at least six rebounds.
“I love rebounding,’’ said Johnson, who had six in 20 playing minutes. “Like Pat says, it’s passion and heart.”
The shooting featured 9-for-19 accuracy on 3-pointers. Spani, who was 1-for-7 against Baylor, improved to 5-for-9 and swished a pair of 3-pointers in the second half, the first of her career.
“I told her tonight, ‘You just need to relax. You’re trying to will it in. Just shoot it like you do in practice,’ ’’ Summitt said.
Texas Tech guard Monique Smalls, who was 0-for-4 from the floor and scored three points, spotted at least one flaw in Tennessee’s effort.
“Their defense is decent but we still could have beat it and driven through it every time,’’ she said.
Tech (1-1), which was led by Kierra Mallard’s 15 points, shot 30.2 percent from the floor (16-for-53).
After the rout, Summitt wasn’t budging yet on the Lady Vols’ return trip to their locker room. She saw a lot Tuesday night but apparently needs to see more.
“I told them they have to win something,’’ she said. “We’ve got a couple games coming up here.”
The next is Sunday at No. 14 Virginia.
“We win a couple things and she’s still saying the same thing,’’ Johnson said. “I think she’s waiting for a huge win, something amazing to happen.”
Notebook: Sunday’s game time has been moved to 4 p.m. to avoid a conflict with a Virginia soccer match. . . . Former Lady Vol Alexis Hornbuckle attended Tuesday’s game. . . . UT signee Meighan Simmons also was there with her Steele High teammates.