Among the ebbs and the flows, Angie Bjorklund was the constant.
And the senior guard’s on-target shooting and across-the-board contributions couldn’t have come at a better time with fourth-ranked Tennessee not at its best.
“I thought she was really feeling it offensively,” said UT coach Pat Summitt, “and I thought her defensive intensity was really good as well.”
Bjorklund did what she does best — hit six of 10 shots from behind the 3-point line and make all four of her free throws — on her way to 26 points, five rebounds and four assists in UT’s 85-73 win over Virginia Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
But perhaps most importantly, she played all 40 minutes of the game with just one turnover, shining the brightest in a game that didn’t leave her coach in the best of moods.
“The one thing about Angie,” Summitt said, “I don’t really think fatigue is a factor with her, especially in home games. As long as she was playing that way, we can get her some rest, and I think that’ll be important.”
Though Virginia jumped out to a 17-9 lead four minutes into the game, Bjorklund scored nine of UT’s first 14 points, and she was on the floor fighting for a loose rebound in the second half.
After assisting on three of four UT baskets in a 9-3 spurt that stretched the lead to 16, her layup off Kelley Cain’s pass on a backdoor cut gave UT its largest lead (72-54) with 7:20 left in the game.
The 6-foot sharpshooter from Spokane Valley, Wash., again had her way with Virginia. Bjorklund scored 24 points and hit five 3-pointers in a 77-63 road win over the Cavaliers last season.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily Virginia,” she said smiling. “I just thought my team did a great job of getting me the ball.
“We moved the ball well as a team and knocked down open shots.”
Bjorklund continues to close in on UT’s all-time record for 3-pointers. She’s now just 10 behind Kara Lawson for second and 20 behind Shanna Zolman for the top spot on the list. She’s hit 14 3-pointers in three games this season.
Bjorklund, who’s played a handful of 40-minute games in her long career, made eight of her first 11 shots before missing her last four in the game’s final stretch.
“I don’t think it was necessarily fatigue,” she said. “Sometimes you’re just not hitting shots. As a shooter, you’ve just got to keep shooting.
“Every single shot’s a new shot.”
Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.