ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — The lights went out for the first time at halftime Friday night at the Sports & Fitness Center.
Tennessee did not shoot them out. Just seemed that way.
The first of four power outages, part of an apparent island-wide problem, took place after a women’s basketball power surge by the Lady Vols. Their 46-point first half set the tone for a 66-42 victory over Georgia Tech at the Paradise Jam.
Forward Glory Johnson was dominant at both ends of the court for Tennessee and finished with a double-double, amassing a career-high 18 rebounds while scoring a game-high 15 points.
She was good enough to earn high praise from UT coach Pat Summitt.
“She just played hard on both ends,’’ Summitt said. “She’s such a quick jumper.”
Johnson also was good enough to wear a makeshift crown: a pirate hat and dreadlocks. It wasn’t just a new look. It was a reward.
“Whoever plays as hard as possible, plays their best game,’’ said Johnson, explaining the reason for her wearing the head gear. “I got it today. Alicia Manning got it yesterday.”
No. 4 Tennessee concludes Paradise play, power permitting, at 8 tonight against No. 13 Georgetown (4-1), which was upset by Missouri earlier Friday, 54-45.
Tennessee’s decision to start in a zone defense might have been a concession to Tech’s quickness but the strategy certainly didn’t inhibit UT’s aggression.
“I thought we did a good job out of our zone,’’ Summitt said. “Everyone helped out when they had to help out. I thought they moved really well.”
The Lady Vols were very active in the alignment, trapping the ball, scurrying around the court and feasting on cross-court passes.
And, whether it was a turnover or a rebound, they set an Indy 500 pace whenever they gained possession.
In the process, UT put together a sustained display of offensive fireworks, one that featured a 27-2 scoring run, 51.7 percent field goal shooting and points from all points on the floor.
Tech’s mistakes were especially helpful as UT built a 22-0 first-half scoring edge in points off turnovers.
The Lady Vols’ pace, though, was equally staggering. Vicki Baugh made her first appearance in five games and steered toward the fast lane. It wasn’t long before she snagged a rebound and dribbled up the floor like a guard.
“I thought the ball movement was really, really strong,” Summitt said.
Tech was stumped for any semblance of a scoring response, scoring just two field goals during the final 14 minutes, 17 seconds before halftime. By then, Tennessee led 47-16.
The power outages totally disrupted the second half, resulting in approximately 43 minutes in delays. They didn’t slow down Johnson, however, as she divided her rebounds evenly between both halves. She referred to her final total as “ridiculous” and said that she had no problem playing through the unusual circumstances.
“I’ll take a couple of blackouts to play in the Virgin Islands any day,’’ she said.
Johnson played 29 minutes as Tennessee spread the minutes. Nobody topped 30 except Angie Bjorklund, who played 33 minutes.
The Lady Vols escaped the physical game largely unscathed. Shekinna Stricklen collided with a Tech player in the second half and finished her night on the bench with an ice bag on her right quadriceps muscle. She said afterward that she was sore but thought she’s be OK for Georgetown.
With tonight’s game in mind, Baugh was limited to seven minutes.
“I’m just trying to ease her in,’’ Summitt said.
Dan Fleser covers UT Lady Vols basketball. He may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/@fleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser/