Dec. 30, 2008
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- While the sold-out crowd was obviously rooting for Gonzaga, hometown girl Angie Bjorklund got plenty of cheers during introductions.
Bjorklund scored 14 points to lead No. 8 Tennessee past Gonzaga 77-58 on Tuesday, giving Coach Pat Summitt her 993rd career victory.
"I always wanted to play here," Bjorklund, a sophomore from Spokane, said. "I had lots of family and friends in the stands."
She had plenty of help on the court also. Alyssia Brewer added 14 points, while Shekinna Stricklen and Vicki Baugh each scored 12. Baugh added 15 rebounds as the Vols (10-2) dominated the boards 45-30.
Bjorklund was a four-year starter at University High in the Spokane Valley, and many in the crowd wore T-shirts with "TennZaga" printed on them in support of the player. Bjorklund said it was an odd experience to be cheered on the road.
The one downer for Bjorklund was that her older sister, Gonzaga senior Jami Schaefer, injured her knee last week and could not play. The game was arranged two years ago as a showcase for the sisters.
"Things happen. You've got to go with it," Bjorklund said.
Last year, Gonzaga (11-4) traveled to Tennessee and Bjorklund scored 23 points in the Vols' 93-73 victory. Jami had 19 points in that game. She watched this one from the bench.
Tennessee, coming off an overtime win over Stanford, let Gonzaga hang around until midway through the second half. Then their defense shut the door on the Zags, outscoring them 24-14 over the final 10 minutes for the win.
"This Gonzaga team is very tough," said Summitt, who is on a quest to become the first NCAA coach -- male or female -- to win 1,000 games. "We were not defending and rebounding the way we wanted to."
After a slow start, Gonzaga made 6-of-7 field goals to take a 23-20 lead, helped in part by eight Tennessee turnovers. But Glory Johnson's layup tied the score at 24, and Bjorklund's long 3-pointer put the Lady Vols up 27-24 and they never relinquished the lead.
Tennessee led 38-33 at halftime despite 11 turnovers. Gonzaga shot 43 percent in the half after starting just 4-of-18.
That five-point margin held into the second half, until Tennessee scored seven consecutive points for a 53-41 lead with 11:51 left. The Zags, plagued by poor shooting in the second half, could not make up the difference. They made just 9-of-30 shots in the second half.
"We didn't play our best basketball tonight," Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said.
While it was an honor to have the two-time defending national champions in his building, "we wanted to play better and win the game," Graves said.
Heather Bowman led Gonzaga with 19 points and Courtney Vandersloot had 13 points and 10 assists. The Zags shot just 37 percent, making just 3-of-13 3-point attempts.
The Zags, who average about 1,900 fans per game, sold out the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center for the first time.
The Bjorklund sisters were both stars at University High in the Spokane Valley Angie became Tennessee's first recruit from Washington. She scored 2,103 points in high school, averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds as a senior. She started as a freshman at Tennessee last year.