7:00 PM ET, December 7, 2005
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Candace Parker and the rest of No. 1 Tennessee thought they played poorly in the first half. Focusing on rebounding and defense, they went out and did something about it.Parker had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Tennessee held George Washington scoreless for 8½ minutes after halftime en route to a 59-43 victory Wednesday night."At halftime, we were disappointed by how we were playing," Parker said. "Every game, there's somebody new watching us for the first time, and we're letting them down if we don't show them what Tennessee's about and how we're supposed to play. Because we may never get that opportunity to show that one person that again."She tore a ligament in her left index finger in a victory at Stanford on Sunday and played with that finger taped to her middle finger, but said it didn't hamper her.Shanna Zolman added 12 points for the Lady Vols (8-0), who were closing a five-game road trip in which they will have logged more than 13,000 miles by the time they return home.Jessica Simmonds led George Washington (2-3) with 13 points, but Kimberly Beck was held to five points one game after scoring a career-high 20 against Villanova."We hung with them a majority of the time," Beck said. "We know we can play with anybody in the country now. We just proved that."Before the game, there was little reason to think it would be as close as it was. The Lady Vols came in having outscored opponents by an average of 26.7 points this season and without a loss to an unranked opponent in 3½ years. Tennessee moved atop the AP rankings this week for the first time since early last season, when it reached the Final Four.The Colonials, meanwhile, never had lost by fewer than 14 points in five previous games against Tennessee, and were 0-3 against No. 1 teams.But the Lady Vols were shaky for stretches, committing 23 turnovers in the game and shooting just 43 percent in the first half. That helped George Washington make a game of it, leading for most of the first 10 minutes, then staying within range into the second half."We started out lackadaisical," Zolman said. "The lack of intensity that we showed turned up in the turnovers that we had. They pressured us a lot coming out of their zone. They did a good job switching up and keeping us on our toes."Trailing 40-35, GW had a chance to cut its deficit to three, but Simmonds -- a 29 percent free throw shooter -- missed both attempts from the line.Six minutes into the second half, Jazmine Adair's baseline jumper drew the Colonials to 42-37. That's when Tennessee turned up its defense, forcing poor shots, air balls, shot-clock violations and steals.By the time GW scored again, on Simmonds' jumper with 5½ minutes left, Tennessee had a double-digit edge it wouldn't relinquish."Tonight was a great game for 30, 35 minutes," GW coach Joe McKeown said. "Tennessee makes you have to make plays every possession. That's what happens when you play a team like that -- they find your weaknesses."The Lady Vols held George Washington to 22 percent shooting in the second half and finished the game with 12 steals, five by Alexis Hornbuckle. Tennessee outrebounded GW 39-27, and had 18 second-chance points to the Colonials' two."That's significant," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "We've been really trying to get this team to pound the glass. We haven't been relentless on the boards -- a trademark of ours for years -- but I think this team is starting to commit to rebounding."Tennessee missed its first four shots -- three by Parker -- and had three early turnovers, allowing the hosts to score the game's first five points.The Lady Vols didn't take their first lead until more than 9½ minutes had elapsed, on Sidney Spencer's jumper near the foul line that made it 15-14. It was the longest Tennessee had played this season without being ahead.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press