7:00 PM ET, January 27, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt watched her team beat South Carolina for the 30th straight time and didn't like what she saw."I'll tell you, I'm very disappointed that we came here and played the way we did," Summitt said after a 68-53 victory Thursday night. "It's just not Tennessee's way. It's not acceptable. But I will accept a win."The Lady Vols (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) made 21 turnovers and trailed in the second half. Still, they extended their streak against the Gamecocks that began after a 56-52 defeat on Jan. 23 -- when Jimmy Carter was in the White House.Most of those win came with ease, with the average margin of victory 33.3 points.This time, it took until the final 10 minutes for Tennessee (15-3, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) to wear down South Carolina (6-14, 0-6) for its seventh consecutive victory.Stacy Booker hit a long 3-pointer that put South Carolina ahead 37-36 with 13:54 remaining. That's when Shyra Ely fueled a 16-2 run to give Tennessee control.She put back a missed shot, was fouled and converted the free throw to give Tennessee the lead for good. She followed with a short jumper and a wide-open 3-pointer for a 44-37 lead. Shanna Zolman ended South Carolina's upset bid with consecutive 3-pointers.When Zolman's second long-range shot swished through, the Lady Vols were ahead 52-39 with 8:14 left.Ely finished with a team-high 16 points but had eight of her team's turnovers."We needed to play hard, to come out with intensity and we didn't do that until the second half," Ely said.Early on, this certainly wasn't the sharp, polished Tennessee team that usually pounds South Carolina.The Lady Vols' passes would bounce off hands and go out of bounds. They missed nine of their first 12 shots and had nine turnovers in the game's first 10 minutes to trail 19-11.Even when Tennessee rallied to a 27-24 lead, Summitt was not happy with what she watched -- and she let her players know it."We didn't take the initiative to bring the energy, to bring the intensity to them," Zolman said. "We did once we finally got jump-started and got yelled at."Asked what she told the team at the break, Summitt deadpanned that her speech was "not as inspiring as you might think it was."Besides the dominating run over South Carolina, the Lady Vols have won their last 39 SEC regular-season games dating to February 2002.South Carolina coach Susan Walvius thought her team played with passion and drive for three quarters of the game but collapsed when Ely and the Lady Vols got going."I think we just lost focus," forward Iva Sliskovic said. "They took advantage of that."While Ely was leading the decisive run, the Gamecocks went 0-for-4 from the field and 0-for-3 on free-throw attempts.Tye'sha Fluker had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Tennessee. Brittany Jackson added 15 points and Zolman 13.Sliskovic had 14 points and eight rebounds to lead the Gamecocks.Summitt sat at the interview table with Ely, Zolman and Jackson -- her three seniors who average nearly 35 points among them -- and made it clear the sting of this victory wouldn't disappear for a while."We can't let our play do what it did tonight and that is dip. Our play was uninspired and the execution was poor," Summitt said. "We have to learn to get on a mission."
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