March 7, 2009
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - DeWanna Bonner scored 26 points, and No. 6 Auburn went on a 21-4 run at the start of the second half to rout No. 19 Tennessee 78-58 on Saturday night in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Whitney Boddie added 19 points for the Tigers, who advanced to the championship game for the first time since winning the title in 1997. Auburn (29-2) trailed by five at halftime before Bonner and Boddie turned a close game into a blowout.
Angie Bjorklund scored 17 points for Tennessee, but couldn't prevent the most lopsided loss for the Lady Vols (22-10) in an SEC tournament game. Alabama beat Tennessee 85-66 in 1984.
Boddie scored 17 of her points in the second half, including eight during the Tigers' decisive run. Bonner sank a long 3-pointer to make it 60-41 with 9:04 remaining, then backpedaled with her tongue out and her shooting hand extended.
The celebration really began at the start of a timeout with 3:34 remaining, when the Tigers came off the court exhorting their small section of fans to cheer louder. The Auburn band began playing "Ticket to Ride" -- with Tennessee 20 points behind and facing certain elimination.
Auburn will bring that swagger into Sunday night's championship game against either No. 22 Vanderbilt or LSU in the championship game Sunday night.
Bjorklund scored all of her points in the second half, but that wasn't nearly enough to keep it close. Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt was annoyed enough with her team that she called a timeout with 2:38 remaining and the outcome no longer in doubt.
The first half went much better for Tennessee, which was seeded fifth in this tournament but appeared poised for an upset with the help of its usual crew of orange-clad fans. Despite an early injury to 6-foot-6 Kelley Cain, the Lady Vols led 31-26 at halftime.
Briana Bass, the Lady Vols' 5-foot-2 guard, drove to the basket and scored after faking a pass to the perimeter. That started a 14-6 run to close the half that had Summitt pumping her fists as her team headed off the court.
Cain returned for Tennessee in the second half, but it was Auburn that took control of the game.
Alyssia Brewer had 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Lady Vols.