March 21, 2010 in Sports

Vols open with win

Beth Rucker Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Tennessee’s Shekinna Stricklen loses control of the ball as she drives.
(Full-size photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – When Tennessee lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, coach Pat Summitt sent the team to the practice court immediately.

That extra work helped the Lady Volunteers secure a No. 1 seed this season and return to their winning ways with a 75-42 victory over No. 16 seed Austin Peay on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA women’s tournament.

“They were confused why would we go right back to practice. They thought it was punishment,” Summitt said. “I said, ‘No, it’s an opportunity for this basketball team to get better.’ ”

The Lady Vols (31-2), playing in their NCAA-record 29th first-round game, had advanced out of the opening weekend every season until last year’s 71-55 loss to Ball State in the first round as a No. 5 seed. They’re now 43-1 in the first two rounds.

The Lady Vols’ work ethic wasn’t the only difference in the two games.

This time Tennessee played at “The Summitt” and in front of mostly orange-clad fans and Kelley Cain, injured in last season’s loss, scored 18 points with 12 rebounds.

“(It’s) just a little bit different,” Tennessee’s Angie Bjorklund (University HS), who scored 14 points, said of the atmosphere of the arena.

The Lady Govs (15-18) got their first points when Ashley Herring hauled in a rebound off Brooke Faulkner’s missed jumper and hit a jumper with 13:14 left in the first half to make it 15-2. Herring scored 21 points for Austin Peay.

On Monday, the Lady Vols will face No. 8 Dayton, which beat No. 9 TCU 67-66 on Saturday. With a win, Tennessee will stay in state to play in the semifinals of the Memphis regional.

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