published Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Lady Vols send Flyers tumbling to Earth

Manning, Spani pace Lady Vols' romp

by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE -- One season removed from a shocking, embarrassing, first-round NCAA tournament exit, the Tennessee women's basketball team continued putting Earth back on its axis Monday night.

Tennessee nearly doubled up second-round opponent Dayton before easing up down the stretch for a 92-64 win in Thompson-Boling Arena.

"I could really feel the energy in the locker room tonight, and they were really ready to get out there on that court ASAP," UT coach Pat Summitt said. "That's usually a good sign."

The top-seeded Lady Volunteers (32-2) advanced into the round of 16 in Memphis.

Dayton's season, which featured the program's first NCAA appearance and first tournament win, ended at 25-8.

"Tennessee is a great team, and that's what we aspire to be in every aspect of the game -- their physicalness, their size, their skill, their defensive intensity," Dayton coach Jim Jaber said. "As we grow our program, this is a great lesson to learn from. The only thing I'm disappointed in is that Tennessee and the country didn't get to see us play the way we play.

"I felt the stage got pretty big out there, and we played uncharacteristically poor defense and didn't execute the way we execute on offense. I understand Tennessee had something to do with that, but a lot of it was self-inflicted. We broke down and did things we've never done before."

Sophomore forward Alicia Manning and freshman wing Taber Spani led the Lady Vols with 17 points each. Alyssia Brewer scored 14, while Kelley Cain and Angie Bjorklund added 12 and 11. Manning also collected game highs of 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Spani shot 7-for-8 from the floor. She didn't miss a field-goal try until late in the second half -- her final attempt -- and was 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

Jaber tried junk defenses that focused on Bjorklund and other star guard Shekinna Stricklen.

"We knew we had to take away their inside game, and so we were hoping those two didn't go crazy on us ... and they went crazy on us," Jaber said. "If we had to pick our poison -- and we did -- that was the result. There were a couple of shots where the shot clock was at one second, and we were in their face, and they're hitting 3s fading away.

  • photo
    Tennessee forward Alicia Manning lays the ball in while playing Dayton in the second half of an NCAA second-round college basketball game Monday, March 22, 2010, in Knoxville, Tenn. Manning scored 17 points as Tennessee won 92-64. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

"I don't know if they do that usually. If they do, then you should raise the ticket prices, because that's some really good basketball."

Manning said she felt relieved Monday after "letting the team down with foul trouble" Saturday.

"I definitely felt like I needed to pick it up and make up for what I didn't do in the other game," added Manning, who also made two steals and blocked a shot.

Spani said she and Manning were more than happy to take advantage of Dayton's poison-picking.

"I think it helps when they're doubling the inside, because pretty much every team face-guards Ang," Spani said. "But I think this just speaks for the balance and the talent of this team. Everyone that came in there really added something."

UT dominated the opening minutes before an expectedly partisan crowd. The Lady Vols had a 21-6 lead after eight minutes, and their advantage swelled to 30-11 after 11 minutes before they slowed down somewhat for a 50-30 lead at the break.

Sophomore forward Justine Raterman was the only Flyer in double figures with 17 points.

"When I was at Providence and we played UConn, we played them close for a while, but then at some point they were going to have a spurt," Jaber said. "You have to play near-perfect to keep it close. And when you have mental errors ... you're in trouble.

"(Tennessee is) so good. We have to play much, much better for longer stretches to stay in a game like that."

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