ST. THOMAS, U.S VIRGIN ISLANDS (UTSports.com) -- The fourth-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball team jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first five minutes, 15 seconds of the opening stanza and never looked back, racing to an 82-44 victory over Missouri in their first game of the “Reef Division” at the 2010 Paradise Jam tournament at the University of the Virgin Islands’ Sports and Fitness Center.
The Lady Vols improve to 5-0 on the season, while the Tigers drop to 1-2.
All 10 Lady Vols that played made a basket, and Meighan Simmons was UT’s leading scorer with 14 points.
The 5-9 freshman from Cibolo, Texas, has now started her career off by reaching double figures in her first five collegiate games.
“Oh, we keep our foot on the gas and we keep going,” Simmons said. “Especially when we have a lead. We always want to keep the momentum going.”
Raeshara Brown, of Missouri, led all scorers with 18 points, but the rest of the Tigers couldn’t muster anything offensively.
UT used stifling defense throughout the game to hamper Missouri’s attack throughout the game.
The Tigers missed six of their first seven shot attempts, and committed 15 turnovers to just four for the Lady Vols in the first half.
“I think our depth played a big part,” Lady Vol head coach Pat Summitt said. “Our zone defense also played a big part. We're long and there's some range there. People came off the bench and everyone did a nice job.”
After racing out to an 11-2 lead behind three buckets by 6-6 junior center Kelley Cain, the Lady Vols allowed six straight Tigers’ baskets.
Tennessee answered by going on a 17-3 run to take a commanding 28-11 lead. During the run, UT’s top sub played a critical role, with sophomore Taber Spani hitting the game’s first three-pointer and classmate Kamiko Williams hitting jump shots and playmaking.
Spani and Williams each scored 10 points, while fellow sub – junior Alicia Manning – scored a season-high 11 points and recorded a career-best five steals.
The superb bench play allowed Summitt to rest some of her key starters such as Cain (12 minutes), senior Angie Bjorklund (22 minutes) and junior Shekinna Stricklen (19 minutes). Redshirt junior Vicki Baugh also didn’t play for a fourth straight game, as Tennessee continues to monitor her minutes after a 20-month layoff because of two knee surgeries.
“We have two very tough games coming up so it was important to rest some starters and give everyone a chance to play,” Summitt said. “We wanted to share the minutes the best we could. I didn't play Baugh, but she will be ready tomorrow.”
Tennessee scored 10 straight points to open the second half, taking a 53-24 lead at the 17:19 mark. The Lady Vols made six of their first seven shots after intermission, while preventing the Tigers from making a basket until a Brown three-pointer 6:30 into the second stanza.
Tennessee finished the game shooting 50.8 percent, while holding the Tigers to 34.1 percent from the field.