No. 6/5 Women's Basketball downs No. 7/10 Tennessee, 73-59
Dec. 14, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas was already off to its best start in 20 years and shooting up the rankings under second-year coach Gail Goestenkors.
Still, there's no measuring stick quite like the Tennessee Lady Vols, the defending national champs and winners of eight titles overall.
The No. 6 Longhorns measured up in every way Sunday, thumping No. 7 Tennessee 73-59 behind 21 points from Brittainey Raven and a dominant effort on defense and rebounding.
"We knew we could win," said Kat Nash, who scored 12 points and hit a big 3-pointer in a 10-1 Texas run in the second half. "We knew if we played our hardest, we would win."
Texas is 9-0 for the first time since the 1987-88 season.
"We are growing," Goestenkors said. "We are going to be a national power and a team to always be reckoned with."
Tennessee (7-2) lost five key players, including national player of the year Candace Parker, from last year's national title team that pounded Texas 92-67 last season. The loss left Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt 10 wins shy of career No. 1,000.
"Night and day," Summitt said in comparing this Texas team to last season.
A quick look at the stat sheet showed just how far the Longhorns have come.
Texas held Tennessee to 33 percent shooting, forced 18 turnovers and dominated the rebounding 52-41, including 19 offensive boards that led to 17 second-chance points.
"We missed so many, easy, easy shots in the paint," Summitt said. "You've got to give Texas an awful lot of credit. They were tough."
The young Lady Vols hurt themselves with fouls and 11 of 24 free throw shooting. Freshman Glory Johnson, Tennessee's leading scorer this season, played less than three minutes of the first half because of foul trouble and was 7-of-14 from the line with several key misses in the second.
Johnson picked up two fouls in the first two minutes and went to the bench for the next 13. She was back in the game only 44 seconds before she picked up her third and went right back to her seat.
"I just had to play smarter," Johnson said. "I just wasn't as physical, wasn't as aggressive."
Texas started fast, hitting four of its first five shots, then went cold, going 5-of-26 for the rest of the half. The Lady Vols, even with Johnson spending most of the half on the bench and Angie Bjorkland picking up three fouls in the half, rallied from eight points down to make it 31-31 at halftime.
Johnson gave Tennessee it's only lead the first time she touched the ball in the second and had eight of the Lady Vols' first 10 points of the half. The game was tied 41-all when Texas cobbled together the big run that changed the game.
Raven started it with a baseline layup off a nifty no-look pass from Carla Cortijo before Raven and Nash hit consecutive 3-pointers to put Texas up 51-42.
"That's what we're known for, driving in and kicking it out to our shooters," Raven said. "Once we got that going in the second half, we hit those threes,"
Another 3-pointer by Nash made it 57-46. Tennessee got back within six before Johnson and Vicki Baugh missed four straight free throws that could have pulled the Lady Vols back into the game.
After the misses, Texas steadily built its lead to put the game away. Raven made a pair of free throws and Cortijo drove for a layup to push the lead back to 11.
Cortijo, who played only six minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, finished with 11 points and five assists and Ashley Lindsey had 11 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.
"This was a big win for us," Raven said. "We've been waiting for a big game like this."
On the difference between the first and second halves: At halftime, I talked to the players and asked them what the most important stats are to me. They all said rebounding, and I asked them what the second most important stat is, and they said assists. I told them that we only had two. That's not going to get it. I do not like that kind of basketball. It's not any fun for you and it's not any fun for me, and it's not going to be good for our team. We have got to share the ball and penetrate to make other people better and to find the open player. We had 10 in the second half and that was the difference for us. Offensively, in our flow, we must share the ball to look good.
On what the team still needs to improve on: We just have to continue to do a better job offensively. We had some good moments in the second half, but overall for the game, we weren't executing or setting good screens. When you're playing athletic teams that really fight hard on defense, you have to make sure to set a good screen and use the screens. Little things like that make a big difference in big games.
SOPHOMORE GUARD Kathleen Nash
On the mindset for this game: I think we had a really good mentality going into this game. We knew we could win, and we knew if we played our hardest, we would win.
JUNIOR GUARD Brittainey Raven
On difference between this year's game vs. Tennessee: This year, we had a lot more confidence going into this game than we did last year. Last year, we didn't have Erika [Arriaran], and this year we had Erika back. It wasn't a good shooting night for her, but when she was out on the court, it still helped us. They didn't want to leave Erika to help off on the drive.
On what went wrong in the second half: I didn't think (Briana Bass) was as sharp with her leadership at the point coming out of the half. Things just started to break down for us. I thought the one thing in the second half was we played just so over-anxious offensively. When you don't make shots, if you are a young basketball team, that will deflate them.
SOPHOMORE GUARD ANGIE BJORKLUND
On what happened in the second half: I do give Texas a lot of credit with their defense and their pressure, and also they were hitting shots. I think our defense just broke down. When things weren't going our way, we weren't there mentally. We just need to stay in it and hopefully we'll learn from this.
On where the team goes from here: I really think the major thing is staying in it mentally. When things aren't going our way we need to just go to the next play and just take it one possession at a time, especially on defense. If we don't hit a shot we need to go back and get a stop in order to stay in the game. We'll take this and hopefully grow up fast.
FRESHMAN FORWARD GLORY JOHNSON
On what effect missing shots had on the team: At some point I think it affects us individually, but as a team if we miss shots you have another teammate pumping you up. We shouldn't worry about what shots we miss and what shots we make, we should just keep on trying to push the ball and play our game.