KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Shyra Ely helped Tennessee overpower
Playing power forward after seeing action at small forward most
of the season, Ely scored 18 points in the No. 5 Vols' 72-63
victory over (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) Vanderbilt on Sunday.
"I got a chance to get inside and get some easy buckets,
rebound and run the floor. Those are my strengths, so it worked out
today," Ely said.
Coach Pat Summitt thought Ely handled the change well after the
Lady Vols' leading scorer was held to six points in a loss at LSU
on Thursday night.
"I was pleased to see she had the maturity and focus you would
want a senior to have, but she also had the drive when she was in
the game," Summitt said. "I thought her aggressive play was a big
difference in our post game."
The Lady Vols (19-4, 9-1 Southeastern Conference) needed all of
Ely's help while Vanderbilt kept whittling away at the lead.
Tennessee was ahead by as many as 16 in the second half and by
11 with 4:44 remaining.
After Shanna Zolman's jumper with 2:24 to go, Vanderbilt's
Ashley Earley scored inside and Dee Davis had a driving layup to
cut it to 67-63 with 1:55 left.
Zolman's basket was Tennessee's last field goal, but Vanderbilt
couldn't get any closer.
The Lady Vols went 5-of-6 from the free throw line down the
stretch to pull out their eighth straight victory over the
Commodores (17-6, 6-4). Tennessee was 15-of-23 at the foul line
overall while Vanderbilt was 8-of-10.
"I'm proud of how my team kept coming back when down 16 on the
road," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "We just didn't
finish the job."
Tennessee has won 59 in a row over SEC opponents at home -- the
Commodores have never beaten Tennessee in Knoxville.
Zolman and Tye'sha Fluker each added 14 points.
The Lady Vols opened the second half with a 6-0 run to extend
their lead to 15. To cap the spurt, Alexis Hornbuckle dribbled
behind her back, spun around Earley and sank a short jumper.
Earley, however, spent most of the game blowing past Tennessee
defenders and helped Vanderbilt prevent its deficit from getting
Earley led the Commodores with 24 points on 11-of-12 shooting
from the floor and had 11 rebounds. Abi Ramsey added 17 points
before fouling out with 19.2 seconds left.
"Our whole interior defense has to be stronger. They got their
way pretty much," Summitt said.
The Commodores cut the lead from 11 to seven with 5:32 left
after a basket by Earley and a pair of free throws by Carla Thomas.
Tennessee restored the lead to 11 over the next minute, but
Thomas scored again and Ramsey hit a 3 to trim it to 57-63 with
3:40 to go.
Fluker, who was 6-of-8 from the field, gave Tennessee a reliable
presence. She was playing in her second game back from missing two
while she was at home in California for her grandmother's funeral.