NASHVILLE — Glory Johnson was thinking more like a good teammate than a great player.
"However I can help," was how the Tennessee senior forward summed up her playing directive.
She turned out to be the best teammate the Lady Vols could have, helping them to their third consecutive SEC tournament championship with a 70-58 victory over LSU on Sunday.
Before a record crowd of 12,441 at Bridgestone Arena, Johnson scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to cap a most valuable player weekend performance.
She was helping to the very end. When the final buzzer sounded, she was on the court fighting for a loose ball.
"I keep saying every game, I don't think she can take it to another level and she keeps taking it to another level," UT associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "That's just her nature. She's competitive.
"I absolutely love that about Glory. It's in her spirit; it's in her DNA. It is what makes her game special."
Johnson was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Shekinna Stricklen. She had another strong half-game, scoring 14 of her 16 points in the second half. She hit two huge jumpers inside the final two minutes, after Tennessee's lead had dwindled to four points.
Vicki Baugh added 10 points and seven rebounds for No. 2 seed Tennessee (24-8), which now has won nine consecutive SEC tournament games.
Johnson's scoring featured the second 3-pointer of her career, which saved UT's first offensive possession. She also played an active part in a strong second-half defensive performance that limited No. 4 seed LSU (22-10) to nine field goals.
What Johnson didn't intend do also had a huge bearing on Sunday's outcome, albeit in an unfortunate manner. Her leg collided with the head of LSU all-tournament forward LaSondra Barrett, who was taken off the court on a stretcher with 14:18 left in the second half and taken to a local hospital.
"All I know is that we're going to make sure that our trainer is with her," LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. "They're going to monitor her and make sure she's OK. I know she went down pretty hard."
Barrett was in a seated position on the court. She had just fallen after missing a driving shot. When Johnson turned to head up the court, she said that couldn't avoid contact with Barrett.
"I tried to avoid it," Johnson said. "I didn't think she was going to lift up her head as soon as she did. She caught the side of my leg."
At the time, Barrett had scored nine points and dished out four assists. Lockwood summed up her loss by saying, "It's like us losing Glory Johnson."
The Lady Tigers still had Adrienne Webb, who finished with a team-high 16 points. Her 3-pointer shortly thereafter cut Tennessee's lead to 45-44. They also had 6-foot-5 Theresa Plaisance, who scored 13 and shot like a guard in swishing two 3-pointers. Furthermore, they were still shooting around 50 percent from the floor, as they had during the first half.
"We kept telling them during the timeouts," Lockwood said, "we said 'We're scoring points, but we're in a race with them because they're scoring points right on our tail. We need stops in order to separate.
"Every coach on the staff, at some point, inserted their version of that."
Reserve guard Kamiko Williams responded with two resounding blocks. First she thwarted Webb's jumper with 4:28 left. Then she blocked Jeanne Kenney's driving shot with 1:26 left.
"I got excited," said Williams of her reaction to the second block. "I kind of let the ball roll. I'm glad Glory was there to grab it."
Stricklen followed with a 3-pointer and then everyone got excited.
Time to celebrate another championship. The player who helped the most couldn't have been happier.
"This is the team we wanted to show people we are," Johnson said.
Lady Vols win the 2012 SEC Tournament
Game highlights from the LSU-Tennessee SEC Championship game
2012 Women's Basketball Tournament - Tennessee Championship Press Conference
2012 Women's Basketball Championship - Music City Madness
SEC in the Paint on the Lady Vols and the SEC Tournament