DAYTON, Ohio – There are halftime chats and then there are coach’s rants. Pat Summitt hasn’t won 1,071 games by not knowing when to let her team have it.
Trailing 42-40 at the break, Summitt absolutely lit up her Tennessee Lady Vols and their regional semifinal game Saturday tilted soon after. With Shekinna Stricklen scoring 14 of her 20 points in the second half and touching off a critical 11-3 run, Summitt and the Lady Vols defeated Ohio State 85-75.
“It was about an 81/2,” Summitt said, rating her halftime speech on a scale where 10 is when the paint peels off the walls. “I wasn’t real happy.”
Meighan Simmons added 18 points and Kelley Cain had 16 for Tennessee (34-2), which won its 25th straight.
The Lady Vols meet Notre Dame, a winner over Oklahoma, in the regional championship game on Monday night, with a trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis on the line.
“We played on our heels a little more in the first half,” said Spokane’s Angie Bjorklund, who didn’t score but had seven assists.
Notre Dame 78, Oklahoma 53: Brittany Mallory scored a season-high 20 points, and Notre Dame’s defensive pressure forced 24 turnovers to seal a spot in the regional final against Tennessee.
Nicole Griffin scored 18 points for Oklahoma (23-12), which reached the Final Four each of the last two years.
Notre Dame (29-7) had a 47-24 edge in rebounding, limiting the Sooners to two offensive rebounds.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t give them much of a fight,” Coale said. “We got absolutely demoralized on the boards.”
Natalie Novosel scored 15 points, and Devereaux Peters added 17 for the Irish.