Angie Bjorklund checked out a little early Sunday night.
She earned her time off.
When Bjorklund headed to the bench with 3:19 left, the Tennessee junior guard had seemingly worked overtime in scoring a team-high 25 points. She helped lead the Lady Vols’ stampede to a 96-75 women’s basketball victory over Oklahoma before a crowd of 13,332 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Bjorklund converted 9 of 14 attempts, several of which saved wayward possessions, and set the tone for the team’s 51.3 percent accuracy (39-for-76). She also converted five of eight 3-point attempts, part of Tennessee’s 10-for-16 accuracy from long range.
“Anytime you get 10-for-16 from three, you’re hard to beat,’’ Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said.
Those numbers were just part of an unbeatable combination compiled by No. 4 Tennessee (12-1).
Lady Vols point guard Shekinna Stricklen recorded the second triple-double in team history with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. She and Bjorklund were two of four double-figure scorers. Post players Alyssia Brewer and Kelley Cain added 13 and 10 points, respectively.
UT also amassed a 48-31 rebounding advantage against No. 14 Oklahoma (10-3), along with a 32-0 edge in bench scoring.
Coale actually thought the rebounding was the insurmountable difference.
“You can talk about how well they shot the ball; we didn’t shoot it too bad,’’ she said. “The difference was on the glass.”
As for the bench scoring, Coale chalked that up to more better players on UT’s part.
“They have a few more McDonald’s All-Americans than we do,’’ she said. “We gave it the old college try.”
After sorting through all of Tennessee’s damage, Coale got around to Bjorklund and her dead-eye shooting.
“They’re not wide-open, easy shots,’’ Coale said. “She might get one or two, but the rest are highly contested. I think their team has rallied around that.”
Fitting that Oklahoma’s coach finished with Bjorklund because she was the Lady Vols’ closer, scoring 16 of her points after halftime as part of a 51-point second half.
Oklahoma got this entertaining game started by setting a fast pace and rushing to an early 14-4 lead.
“I knew right off they wanted to make it an up-and-down game,’’ UT coach Pat Summitt said.
Led by Amanda Thompson’s game-high 26 points and three other double-figure scorers, the Sooners scored more than any UT opponent this season and became the first foe to top 40 percent field-goal accuracy for a game (29-for-65, 44.6 percent).
They had enough staying power to withstand UT’s first-half response and lurk within 62-54 with just over 12 minutes left.
At that point, Bjorklund was holding off the Sooners by scoring 10 of Tennessee’s first 17 points of the second half. On one possession, she saved a possible turnover by fielding a Stricklen pass and swishing a 3-pointer.
“It was lovely,’’ Brewer said of Bjorklund’s shooting. “This game, I knew every time the ball got into Angie’s hands it was going in and if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be a bad miss. All her shots were very selective and she was big for us.”
As far as Bjorklund was concerned, she was just doing her job.
“My role on this team is to be a scorer,” she said. “When we work the ball around as a team, it opens a lot of things up.”
With a little help from Stricklen in the form of a five-point scoring run, UT’s lead jumped back to double figures. Bjorklund then took aim again and swished her final two treys. The second started a 16-point scoring run that finally broke Oklahoma and pushed UT’s lead to as much as 27 points (88-61) with 2:59 left.
By then Bjorklund’s work was done.