Lady Vols roll to SEC tournament title

Tennessee hits record 16 3-pointers in 90-65 win

Tennessee players Briana Bass and Glory Johnson celebrate after defeating Kentucky 90-65 for the SEC Championship title in Nashville on Sunday March 6, 2011.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee players Briana Bass and Glory Johnson celebrate after defeating Kentucky 90-65 for the SEC Championship title in Nashville on Sunday March 6, 2011.

Pat Summitt addresses fans after SEC tourney win

NASHVILLE — It wasn’t so much that Angie Bjorklund was open Sunday. Instead, Tennessee’s senior guard was open-minded.

When she pulled up in front of the Lady Vols bench in the second half with Kentucky forward Victoria Dunlap lurking, Bjorklund had no intention of pulling the trigger.

But then teammate Kamiko Williams got in her head.

“I heard Kamiko on the bench saying, ‘I bet you won’t shoot it. I bet you won’t shoot it,’ ’’ Bjorklund said.

So Bjorklund shot it and swished one of her seven treys, one of a school single-game record 16 by Tennessee in a 90-65 victory in the SEC women’s basketball tournament championship game.

Playing before a crowd of 11,150 at Bridgestone Arena, Tennessee (31-2) won its second consecutive tournament championship and the 15th in program history.

It was the third time the Lady Vols won the tournament after going undefeated in conference regular-season play. Thanks to their dominance, a top seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament is a virtual certainty.

“They deserve what they got today because they went after it,’’ said UT coach Pat Summitt, who sang “Rocky Top” twice on the court afterward.

Bjorklund’s take-a-dare accuracy was just the sort of moment her mind’s eye was seeing with uncanny clarity.

“In my head, every single shot was going in,’’ said Bjorklund, who was 7 for 8 on 3 pointers for the day and 12 for 14 for the tournament. “I don’t know. It was a fun feeling.”

Several of Bjorklund’s teammates shared in her joy, collaborating on an amazing 16-for-21 sharpshooting exhibition.

Shekinna Stricklen shot 5-for-6 from 3-point range in scoring 19 points and earning tournament most valuable player honors. Meighan Simmons was 2 for 3 from long range in scoring 16.

Taber Spani hit the other two treys.

Once the shooting stopped, Bjorklund and Glory Johnson joined Stricklen on the all-tournament team.

Overall, Tennessee shot a season-best 56.5 percent from the floor, including 70.4 percent (19 for 27) in the second half.

Kentucky (24-8) couldn’t keep pace. Dunlap and Bernisha Pinkett scored 15 points apiece and the Wildcats outrebounded taller UT, 46-41. But the Wildcats shot just 27.3 percent from the floor (21 for 77).

“I just think they’re very, very good,’’ Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said of the Lady Vols. “When they’re on like tonight, they’re tough to beat.”

Their long-range accuracy inspired some post-game humor.

“Finally,’’ forward Alyssia Brewer said, laughing.

Fellow forward Alicia Manning, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds, joked about how the shooting was cramping her blue-collar style.

“I’m kind of mad at them,’’ she said. “I didn’t get any more rebounds. I’m trying to get my rebounds up here and then they have to make every shot. I’m just kidding.”

Seriously, the shooting covered for some potentially serious problems.

Assistant coaches and players alike speculated that the Lady Vols missed more layups than they did 3-pointers. That certainly wasn’t a laughing matter.

Neither were Kentucky’s 31 offensive rebounds, which led to a whopping 28-11 edge in second-chance points, a statistic UT typically dominates.

“Try making a living like that in the next six games,’’ said assistant coach Dean Lockwood, referring to the NCAA tournament.

The Lady Vols hemorrhaged more turnovers against Kentucky’s pressure as well, committing 14 in the first half and 22 overall.

But when they did advance through the press or throw over it, the court opened up for the shooters. And Bjorklund and Co. didn’t mind taking aim and firing.

“It just seemed like everyone was hitting today,’’ Bjorklund said. “When we play like that nobody can beat us.”

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Comments » 91

VolunteerLifer writes:

Thank goodness the ladies salvaged some Tennessee pride on this day. Congratulations, LV's.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

Wow, 16-21 from 3 point land! Congrats, ladies, on another fine season! #1 seed well-deserved!

tulelakevol writes:

Congrats Lady Vols!! Maybe you can give some pointers on shooting to the men before their tourney starts.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

The worst thing that could have happened to Kentucky was the sloppy ball handling by us in the first half, giving the Lady Cats cause for optimism. However, the little halftime speech would be forthcoming.

This was what Vol fans like to see in them, skinned up elbows and knees, hunger for the ball, focus on shooting, and it's what they're famous for. Kentucky scrapped and fought all night, never giving up. Wish we had Dunlap on our team. The girls have what the men's team does not possess, deadly shooters. I am very proud of the effort, and hate to single anyone out, but Alicia Manning is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites. An Eric Berry in a basketball uniform!

Great effort against a team that wanted it badly, and both teams left it on the floor.

SummittsCourt writes:

92, 82, 90 - Yea I would say the offense is clicking

17, 24, 25 point victory margins - yea I would say this team is focused

Congrats Lady Vols 19-0 against the SEC this season and Regular Season and Tournament Champions!

SummittsCourt writes:

I only saw the second half but was it me or was the officiating worse than usual. I saw some seriously bad calls on both teams - made the second half last a lot longer than it should have.

xvolx writes:

Too much firepower for Ky. Way to go ladies.

ps11824 writes:

OK, let me be first to say, johnlg, I did not see that coming. They only slept for a 5-minute stretch, but evidently Bj kept vigil during the game. Twenty what turnovers, and still smaked those kittens to the tune of 90+ to 60+? I'm a happy Lady Vol fan right now. I wish I could have seen it. Sounds like TN dominated. I'm so happy for Angie.

vol98champ writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

I only saw the second half but was it me or was the officiating worse than usual. I saw some seriously bad calls on both teams - made the second half last a lot longer than it should have.

The first half was even worse. Officiating this year is the worst I have ever seen. Dunlap hacked, pulled, and was moving on almost every screen see set. At least in the second half the refs tried to look honest most of the time.

volfan73120#211815 writes:

AWESOME just AWESOME. It has been such a pleasure watching you ladies play.

vol98champ writes:

This team is more fun to watch than Parker's teams. They are at least the equal of the 3 Meeks and Ace. Sure wish them the best.

OldVols68 writes:

I said this a couple of weeks ago ---- "now I think they get it"......they really are on the same page as Pat now. Just keep this up and Pat will be hoisting her 9th banner. I would much rather that happen than to see Geno hoist his 8th banner. Go Lady Vols!!!!!!

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

A lot of pieces, and when they work...

I have a theory: Pat starts Spani because (not to mbe mean) she knows refs tend to call a lot of cheap fouls early...and better NOT to have Angie or Manning in early foul trouble. Particularly Manning, who be her nature is a foul waiting to happen.

My advice to UK: get some balance. You need some big, strong, tough girls inside who can move people around. Too much of one thing....look at UT; the makeup of the team is constantly shifting. We aren't great, but we always can put ourselves in position to have a chance to win.

Complete hustle, every minute by every player...that was fun to watch.
================
Theory on the men: they have to have the "us vs world" thing going, a result of the rally-around-the-wagon for Bruce. I wonder if we even get an invite...

peerlessvolfan writes:

What a relief to watch you all after watching the men! Well done! As Charlie Sheen would say, "Winning, Duh!" :)

mdvol writes:

One could argue the Lady Vols deserve the overall #1 seed.

TennVol01 writes:

First half had me worried a bit ... but then they came out the second half running and gunning. KY did not know how to stop them. Congrats Lady Vols. Did they get to cut the nets down?

DebKY writes:

Thank you Lady Vols for taking down the baby cats! Although Mitchell is a former assistant of Coach Summitt, two years ago he was verbally trashing Louisville, then suddenly changed his focus on his mentor. He said Summitt was too old and needed to quit!
GO BIG ORANGE!!

ladyvolsfan789 writes:

in response to ps11824:

OK, let me be first to say, johnlg, I did not see that coming. They only slept for a 5-minute stretch, but evidently Bj kept vigil during the game. Twenty what turnovers, and still smaked those kittens to the tune of 90+ to 60+? I'm a happy Lady Vol fan right now. I wish I could have seen it. Sounds like TN dominated. I'm so happy for Angie.

I think ESPN put up a replay online and I know that SECsports.com has had replays of all the games in the tournament so far.

That was a fun game to watch especially in the second half. We can't expect to hit 75% for three every night, but the other teams are probably a little scared to play us right now. Manning's playing her best basketball right now, Bjorklund is back into the swing of things after the injury, and Cain's still struggling on offense a bit but her defense in these past two games has been outstanding. With Stricklen and Johnson providing consistency this team is starting to look like a real favorite.

richvol writes:

What a performance. That was one for the ages against a very scrappy Kentucky team. This UT team knows how to finish. The men could learn several things from these Lady's.

Manning needs more minutes...she is incredible.

abnerPeabody writes:

I wonder just how good this team would be with a healthy Baugh,Cain,and Brewer? Kelly has been hit with knee problems as has Baugh and Brewer.They will be back next year,hopefully in good physical shape. It would also help if all three would drop 30 or more lbs. But then again so would a lot of us.

8ball writes:

in response to richvol:

What a performance. That was one for the ages against a very scrappy Kentucky team. This UT team knows how to finish. The men could learn several things from these Lady's.

Manning needs more minutes...she is incredible.

So does kamiko, summitt only plays her when Vols are in a hole ( put there by megan s )

liberalvol writes:

Pat and the Girls did it again!! Congratulations to all of you.

maxvolfan#217855 writes:

in response to 8ball:

So does kamiko, summitt only plays her when Vols are in a hole ( put there by megan s )

All year there has been this debate over the PG position. We all have our favorite players on the team. I love all our players and believe each has a role to play. Coach Summitt knows how to coach . Theres a reason she starts Simmons because Simmons comes out firing getting the tempo of the game going. Face it . Its not about whos playing where , its about team play . Every player knows there role. Its disgruntle posters who make this so called PG controversy into a soap opera. Just be happy that we got the #1 seed that we needed, the ladies are SEC champs again, turnovers did not affect the game one bit ( of course Pat is going to address it) and our post are getting healthy. Great win ladies. GLV!!!

ladyvolsfan789 writes:

in response to maxvolfan#217855:

All year there has been this debate over the PG position. We all have our favorite players on the team. I love all our players and believe each has a role to play. Coach Summitt knows how to coach . Theres a reason she starts Simmons because Simmons comes out firing getting the tempo of the game going. Face it . Its not about whos playing where , its about team play . Every player knows there role. Its disgruntle posters who make this so called PG controversy into a soap opera. Just be happy that we got the #1 seed that we needed, the ladies are SEC champs again, turnovers did not affect the game one bit ( of course Pat is going to address it) and our post are getting healthy. Great win ladies. GLV!!!

I though both were well used tonight. Williams was put in early when Simmons started to put up rushed shots and the team needed to calm down. In the second half when our depth was starting to overwhelm Kentucky we had Simmons in to keep energy up and keep the pressure on Kentucky.

PINK_CHAMPAGNE writes:

I can't be prouder of a this team. Pat and the team were at their finest today. I am at a lost for words! The basketball played today was just amazing by Tennessee. The biggest thing to me is that they were having fun. They were focused. They wanted this win and they got it. They deserve this! 98 I hate you missed it! It was amazing! Please find it somewhere and watch this game. You have to 98!

Shekinna deserves every award that she will receive. SEC player of the year, and SEC tournament MVP! That is all american performance in my book. She better make it this year. She has earned it. This team has made me proud today. All of them!

seadaddy writes:

Where is cat litter box fever......
Lady Vols 48-7 and counting.

ddayvolsfan#238252 writes:

We were at the game in down town Nashville and it was a sea of BIG ORANGE!! Great game Lady Vols although KY was a scrappy team, they lacked height and length to stay with a Lady Vols team that appears to be getting ready to peak at the right time.....NCAA Tournament time!!!!

Razor784 writes:

Excellent win, I really thought this would be a close game. Bjorkland was incredible, Manning was everywhere, and Simmons has to be the fastest female player i've ever seen. Congrats.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

What's scary is it might be a year before we so many of them firing three pointers like this again. So the post players had better spend hours in the gym practicing shots under the rim. Last night and tonight combined they missed at least 20.

HardKnox2010 writes:

Kentucky played their hearts out, but nobody will beat the Lady Vols when they play like this. Even the awful officiating at both ends didn't bother them. Don't think I've seen a team at any level shoot 3s that well.
Its embarrassing, but I count at least 5 LVs who can outshoot anyone on the men's team. And put Glory Johnson against the guys and she would out-rebound all of them. What say they let Pat Summit coach the men for a few practices and show them how to play basketball.

AllLadyVol writes:

Play by the rules, play defense and rebound, and you'll usually win. Seems simple, but not every Tennessee basketball team gets that. Congratulations to Coach Summitt and the Lady Vols. They always make us proud.

(Manning is a beast!)

Titan writes:

in response to DebKY:

Thank you Lady Vols for taking down the baby cats! Although Mitchell is a former assistant of Coach Summitt, two years ago he was verbally trashing Louisville, then suddenly changed his focus on his mentor. He said Summitt was too old and needed to quit!
GO BIG ORANGE!!

I sense a bit of bad blood between Mitchell and Pat. Not often you see her have most of her starters in and pressing with a 25-point lead and three minutes to go - but you did tonight. Post game hand shake was a true "drive by." Believe she was trying to get a point across to Mr. Mitchell . . . and I'd say that she did!

kazoo writes:

This team has been shooting the ball well lately--and that is a very good sign, of course. Sixteen treys in one game is a record and rare indeed--an obvious win. Keep shooting well and win it all.

bmaples writes:

In the first half, Kentucky was MUCH quicker than us, especially our bigs. The UK defense was causing us fits, especially Simmons. When Williams came in, she began to get things calmed down.

Second half, we started beating Kentucky with their own medicine -- strangling defense. The Lady Vols kicked it up a notch, then another notch, and UK didn't have an answer. Then, Bjorklund started raining threes on them, and the rout was on.

Couple of other points:
-- The refereeing started out horrible in both directions with nothing being called, then went completely the other direction with everything being called. It evened out in the end -- in fact, I thought we got away with one where the UK player got thrown to the floor (or so it looked from where I sat). Mitchell was hot, and I thought he had a right to be. In the end, though, the officiating didn't decide the game.
-- Our bigs looked very tall, very big, and very slow. I know they are playing injured -- and they look it. A mobile post player will be tough to manage, I think. I actually liked the smaller lineup that was out there part of the game -- but, it was certainly nice to get those rebounds! Hope all the bigs can do some healing over the next two weeks; we're going to need them in the Big Dance.
-- The energy the Lady Vols brought in the second half was incredible. One of the best halves of bball I've seen them play. I don't know how far they can go -- a quick team like Kentucky but with size would give them a tough game, I think. Still, their defense got better and better as the game went on, and I'm thinking they may be able to put together a deep run. I'm certainly pulling for it!

A good night to be a Lady Vols fan. And congrats to the Lady Cats for playing hard, playing smart, and never giving up.

Bruce in Louisville

flatrock writes:

Incredible shooting. Great effort, especially by
the veterans-S. Stricklen, G. Johnson, A. Manning and A. Bjorklund. How did A. Manning get left off the All-Tourney team?
-Kentucky will make some noise in the NCAAs-
if the officials allow them to grab, scratch
and mug the way they did most of the game
today.
-The TV commentators had to scramble today
to explain why all their praise this week has
been heaped on M Simmons, instead of the
SEC's best player S. Stricklen. As for amazing
snub by the Wade Trophy folks, one of the
nitwits explained that it was because Shekinna
"plays so many positions...!" Someone needs
to introduce the nitwit to Magic Johnson!
-Key turning point came late in 1st half when
Pat inserted K. Williams at PG and watched as
LVs rolled to a 10-1 spurt and took 9-point
lead at half. Pat realized her mistake though,
apologized to M. Simmons and kept K. Williams
on the bench for all but the final 2 meaningless
minutes of the 2nd half;
-The male officials in this week's tourney have
set the gender back 30 years...the female zebras
struggled, too, but they were better than the
guys!
-Why did V. Baugh not play?

RockyTopRampage writes:

Can Pat Summitt coach our Men's BB Team and FB Team as well?

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

This was by far the BEST game they have played all year. We were only in a slump for about 5 min of the entire game. They played like NC's today and NOBODY, I mean NOBODY could have beat them! It was so exciting to watch! Yes, 98, you must find it. It's worth every minute of it!

BOOM, here comes the Lady Vols! They WILL make it to the FINAL FOUR! Nobody believed me when people were complaining while we were still winning all of these games. I said that Pat would get it all worked out and she did!

Congrats to the whole team and all of the coaches and all of the fans! Final Four here we come! GLV!

richvol writes:

After the initial excitement of the great win I did see some things that are troubling just as the article mentioned.

The turnovers are mostly the result of Meighan's careless passing,ball handling and being in too big of a hurry. She is a great player but not a very good point. It's clear that Kamiko is a lot more polished and effective and should be at point with Meighan at the two spot.

Why is Spani starting and getting the majority of the minutes when Manning is a much better all around player. Taber is slow footed and cannot do nearly the things on the floor that Alicia can. The best post player is Glory hands down...why even play Cain. Glory is THE best center we have. With her and Manning rebounding together there's no chance for the opponents.

How can anyone miss so many layups? The bigs need to shoot contested layups in practice for an hour every day.

SummittsCourt writes:

Has anyone really taken note of the great Coaching job Pat Summitt has done the last two seasons. Remember this is the same team basically that went 22-11, 9-5 in the SEC and lost in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

Since then, they are 31-1 in the SEC regular season, back to back regular season and tourney champions posting a sparkling record of 64-5 record over the last two seasons.

Oh by the way, the depth gets deeper next season with 3 players coming in that will be immediate impact players providing our Red shirt juniors come back next season.

punkin writes:

in response to vol98champ:

The first half was even worse. Officiating this year is the worst I have ever seen. Dunlap hacked, pulled, and was moving on almost every screen see set. At least in the second half the refs tried to look honest most of the time.

I agree. Pat was chewing on the refs in the first few minutes. One of the worst officiated games I have seen.

ps11824 writes:

lvf789, I think Manning is a hard-hat , lunch pale kind of baller. I'll take her on my top-5 pick every time. I cannot make myself be happy about 22 turnovers, regardless. How many turnovers? I haven't checked the box score. Why did Baugh not play today? Did they mention her at all? I figured she must be sore from previous minutes in consecutive days. I suppose she needs the extra rest since they obviously didn't need her minutes tonight.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Did anyone notice the nitwits doing the commentary on TV? One of them was attempting to explain why the orange outnumbered the blue in the crowd so overwhelmingly, and she said its because "Lexington is A LOT farther from Nashville than Knoxville." Google says its a half hour farther. And the one who was a former coach kept coaching Kentucky, giving unsolicited advice on strategy, personnel deployment, for the cats. I was laughing at them. Are there no decent TV announcers for the women's game?

dawood32025#214896 writes:

in response to vol98champ:

The first half was even worse. Officiating this year is the worst I have ever seen. Dunlap hacked, pulled, and was moving on almost every screen see set. At least in the second half the refs tried to look honest most of the time.

After the first half I told my wife between the ref's and Simmons, I didn't think we had a chance.

RLL59 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Has anyone really taken note of the great Coaching job Pat Summitt has done the last two seasons. Remember this is the same team basically that went 22-11, 9-5 in the SEC and lost in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

Since then, they are 31-1 in the SEC regular season, back to back regular season and tourney champions posting a sparkling record of 64-5 record over the last two seasons.

Oh by the way, the depth gets deeper next season with 3 players coming in that will be immediate impact players providing our Red shirt juniors come back next season.

Coach Summitt gets the credit she is due; this year she again was selected Coach of the Year in the SEC. Congratulations to her and especially to the players for an undefeated SEC season and winning the SEC tournament.

I think everyone is aware that, in effect, a handful or so schools fight over the best women's high school basketball players in the country, and after they've 'selected', the other hundreds of schools fight over the rest. Give Coach Summitt credit for enabling UT to be one of those handful of schools year after year. But that means, except in the rarest of situations, one of those schools should win the National Championship, and every year they should all end up in the Top 10 at the end of the season. None of these 'elite' schools should be seriously challenged or beaten by teams that are made up entirely of players whom none of them even wanted. If they are, it's the coach's responsibility, at least in part, because of either poor coaching or recruiting decisions, or both. The responsibility for the poor season 2 years ago lies with both the players and the coaches, not just the players. By the way, the junior class of Lady Vol players was ranked as the number 1 recruiting class, as is the 2011 class coming in next fall.

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

in response to vol98champ:

The first half was even worse. Officiating this year is the worst I have ever seen. Dunlap hacked, pulled, and was moving on almost every screen see set. At least in the second half the refs tried to look honest most of the time.

I am so glad that I wasn't the only one that seen that Dunlap was doing all those things; the whole KY team was! But, I guess it didn't do them any good!! Go Lady Vols!!! Great Game!

kazoo writes:

The key to this team's success is the shooting of bjorklund and stricklen. If they continue to shoot well, the Vols will be very hard to beat. That will be especially true when we play baylor/stanford/ct. in the tourney. Last year the shot horribly against baylor and we got bounced...Let's hope this year is different.

Cookeville-vol writes:

Great to beat a good team that sound. Ky could not handle the same type of defence they like to play. Go vols final 4 then #9.

Jephry writes:

Kentucky is certainly a scrappy team. They fought, clawed, mugged, tossed, pushed, shoved, scratched, elbowed and even clotheslined (Kelley Cain getting smacked in the throat) our girls, and the Lady Vols remained calm, played good ball and came out on top. I swear Victoria Dunlap could walk over and slap a ref and they'd just smile at her. Anyway, what a performance by our girls. Everyone played her part to near perfection. It was SO nice to see the hunger, the "want to" in their eyes.

Way to go Lady Vols!!!

mad_poly_uct writes:

Congrats on another SEC title! I'd posted at beginning of SEC play that I'd be shocked not to see your team go unbeaten in SEC play, for two reasons. LV's depth & athletisism, & overall strength of SEC(or lack thereof). I haven't had chance to see very many games this year, but based on what I saw last night, your team looks to me like a Final Four team, at the worst. Congrats again, & good luck in NCAA's....'good luck' within reason of course! ;) ;)

IrritatedVol writes:

Great game to watch! I was really thrilled for the ladies, the coaching staff, the fans, etc. I'm really excited about our chances in the NCAAs -- especially if we can play like this, or even remotely close.

That said, there's going to be evil UConn down the road, most likely in the championship game. I've been following and rooting for the Lady Vols since the early 1980s and went to school with some of the original winners (remember Sheila Frost, anyone?), so I obviously know our pedigree, but UConn's a beast, & at the risk of offending some here, they pretty much own UT. Look at the records. Just the way it is. Therefore, I'm inclined to say that I think UT can, should, & will make it to the championship game. Where they will likely face UConn once again. And what will the result be? I've got to go with Evil -- unless UT plays like they did last night. If we can play all out for 40 minutes like we're capable of playing, we WILL take anyone out, UConn or not! But I hope the ladies realize, as I know Pat does, that should we meet up with UConn, we're going to have to bring it. So, I feel a little cautious, but I am optimistic, and I know these girls can do it. I know they can. They just have to go out, make an all out effort, & then we can bring the national championship trophy "home" to Knoxville where it rightfully belongs!!!

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