Lauren Avant on Lady Vols victory over Ohio State
DAYTON, Ohio - Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund made a point of passing Saturday.
Despite going scoreless against Ohio State, the Lady Vols senior guard had a hand in UT's 85-75 Dayton Regional semifinal victory by racking up seven assists. The total matched her career high, which was set during Tennessee's Sweet 16 loss to Baylor last season.
"You have to give her credit because while she didn't score, she had seven assists so that tells me she's thinking, 'OK, I'm not scoring, what can I do to help this team?' '' UT coach Pat Summitt said. "She did a great job about getting the ball into the right hands and she was really talking and very much in tune with what we were doing. I was pleased with her being right in the game."
At times, Bjorklund looked more like a point guard than a sharpshooter. While driving the basket, she threaded a nifty bounce pass to Kelley Cain for a basket as UT was forging a lead early in the second half.
"When you have Kelley shooting 8-for-10 from the floor, you have to get her the ball,'' Bjorklund said. "I know Kelley would do the same for me if I'm on fire. She's going to come and set me screens. It's recognizing who's shooting the ball well. To win the game, you have to keep feeding them."
Bjorklund's 5-for-22 shooting against Baylor last season overshadowed her assists. In this case, they overcame her 0-for-4 performance against the Buckeyes. Still, she's a chilly 2-for-13 in her last two games.
"I need to hunt for shots,'' she said. "I need to get myself open, and I need to be ready to knock down shots."
Having Her Say: It wasn't so much what Shekinna Stricklen said, it was how Tennessee's junior forward said it before Saturday's game that impacted freshman teammate Lauren Avant.
"I did not understand it at all," Avant said.
Bjorklund offered a translation saying that Stricklen brought the players together before Saturday's game and reminded them that they gathered after last season's Sweet 16 loss to Baylor and said that they wouldn't let that happen again this season.
"She reminded us of that moment,'' Bjorklund said.
The Little 10: The Buckeyes fell to 1-9 all-time against the Lady Vols, whom they haven't beaten since 1981.
That's not out of line with the rest of the Big Ten, which has won only five of 50 games against UT.
3 Heat: UT freshman point guard Meighan Simmons hit two of four 3-point attempts against Ohio State to continue her torrid shooting from behind the arc.
Simmons is 11-for-22 on 3s in the last six games.
Reserve Strength: UT guards Kamiko Williams and Taber Spani made the most of limited playing time against the Buckeyes.
Williams had six points and three rebounds in just 10 minutes. Spani had six points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 18 minutes.
Spani, who was 3-for-6 from the field against Ohio State, has made 14 of 25 shots in the last five games.
Notebook: Former Lady Vol Amber Gray, who transferred to Xavier last summer, was in attendance. . . . Tennessee advanced to the Elite Eight for the 24th time. . . . UT's winning streak is at 25 games. . . . Summitt paid her respects to Ohio State center Jantel Lavender by saying, "She's truly one of the best post players we've faced."
John Adams contributed to this report.