Jan. 29, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Lady Vols haven't made it easy on Pat Summitt as she closes in victory No. 1,000.
They've frustrated her with turnovers, inconsistent defense and poor shooting. Summitt's 999th victory had all of those, but Angie Bjorklund hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left and the 13th-ranked Lady Vols narrowly avoid a big upset with a 60-59 win Thursday night against Mississippi.
"That may be the best ending I've seen to an absolutely miserable game to watch and coach," Summitt said.
After yet another dramatic come-from-behind win, Summitt will go for her 1,000th career win when the Lady Vols (16-4, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) face No. 2 Oklahoma on Monday night at Oklahoma City.
Ole Miss (13-8, 2-4) nearly took some of the luster off that marquee matchup.
Shantell Black hit a 3 with 1:16 left to give the Lady Rebels (13-8, 2-4) a 59-54 lead, but Tennessee scored the final six points.
Tennessee's Glory Johnson, who went 4-of-11 from the free-throw line, hit one of two charity shots after being fouled by Kayla Holloway.
Black was called for traveling, and Bjorklund hit a jumper with 1:03 left to cut the margin to 59-57.
Black then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 20 seconds left.
Alex Fuller grabbed the rebound and charged down court. She found Bjorklund, who calmly pulled up and knocked down the winning basket.
"I was just trying to get an opening," Bjorklund said. "I definitely wanted to take the last shot at the end of the game. It came down to just going until I found an opening, and then I was just praying that it would go in. And it did."
Bjorklund led the team with 13 points, and Fuller finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Bianca Thomas led Mississippi with 11 points, and Black added 10.
The Lady Rebels nearly grabbed their first win over the Lady Vols since a 78-72 victory on Feb. 4, 1996 at Oxford. Mississippi has not beaten Tennessee in Knoxville since a 69-65 decision on Jan. 31, 1987.
Mississippi led 54-45, its largest margin, on a layup by Kayla Melson with 4:10 remaining.
It didn't take long for the Lady Rebels to panic, coach Renee Ladner said.
"Our turnovers were huge at that moment, and we didn't understand that we were up by seven so all we had to do was get the ball in, run the clock down and make Tennessee take the ball from you," she said.
The Lady Vols took a 12-3 lead on a layup by Kelley Cain with 12:34 left in the first half and then went cold for the next six minutes. The Lady Rebels scored 11 points during that time, taking a 14-12 lead on a layup by Shawn Goff with 7:26 before the break.
Tennessee went six minutes without a point in the first half, but still led 25-22 at the break.
Mississippi hit three quick 3s and a layup in a three-minute span to chip away at Tennessee's lead after halftime. Thomas' trey with 11:10 left gave the Lady Rebels a 37-36 lead.
Tennessee could have taken control of the game with free throws, but after entering the game shooting 68.6 percent from the line, the Lady Vols hit 16 of 31 for 51.6 percent. Meanwhile, the Lady Rebels continued to hit shots.
"I'm heartbroken for a team that put forth that much effort," Ladner said.
The Lady Vols have trailed at least once in each of the past 12 games, including all of their SEC games.
Frustrated with her team having to play from behind, Summitt drilled her players through intense practices this week.
She was especially upset with her team's 23 turnovers in a loss at Auburn on Sunday. Against Mississippi, the Lady Vols turned it over 24 times.
Summitt's already got plans for the next practice to prepare for Oklahoma.
"Well, we're going to shoot 1,000 free throws between now and then," she said.