Nov. 19, 2004
By ELIZABETH A. DAVIS
AP Sports Writer
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - While their roster changes every season, two things always seem to remain the same for the No. 1 Tennessee Lady Vols - stellar defense and rebounding.
Shyra Ely had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Tennessee held Chattanooga to 13-percent shooting Friday night in a 68-34 victory in the season opener for both teams.
Shanna Zolman added 14 points for the Lady Vols, whose roster looked strikingly different from last year's NCAA runner-up team that lost three seniors. But the results were the same.
The Lady Mocs shot 2-for-22 in the first half and were outrebounded 51-34 for the game.
"I think from the get-go our defense was crucial," Zolman said. "Offensively we had good spurts and bad spurts. For our first road game, I think we played well."
Freshman Laura Hall, the shortest player on the court at 5-foot-5, led Chattanooga with 11 points.
Three members of the Lady Vols' heralded freshman class made their debuts while the other three sat on the bench nursing injuries.
Ely played her first game as a small forward after playing power forward most of her college career. She had the task of guarding Southern Conference player of the year Katasha Brown, who averaged 14.4 points last season.
Brown was 1-of-9 from the field and ended up with five points.
"She's a great defender. She did a great job," Brown said of Ely.
Ely, however, was more critical.
"It was a new experience for me. There's a lot of work (to do)," she said. "I'm getting used to it."
Defending Southern Conference champion Chattanooga, coming off one of its best seasons, showed flashes at times but was outmanned from the start.
Chattanooga tried to rally early in the second half but could not get the deficit lower than 15 points. The Lady Mocs made 3-of-8 shots to cut the lead to 39-24 with 15:44 left before Tennessee coach Pat Summitt got disgusted and called a timeout.
The Lady Vols quickly restored their lead to 20 on Ely's three-point play off a rebound, and Tennessee was up 49-29 with 12:04 left.
Summitt predicted Chattanooga would learn from this game.
"This game will be good for them in the end," she said. "I think they are going to be very successful in their league."
Chattanooga coach Wes Moore was impressed with all of Tennessee's talent, including the rookies.
"Their freshmen were high school McDonald's All-Americans," he said. "Our freshmen ate at McDonald's in high school."
The Lady Vols brought out the largest crowd in Lady Mocs history - 10,051 fans. That included former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, who was sitting behind the Lady Vols' bench with the mother of Tennessee forward Brittany Jackson.