Summitt can pass record with win vs. Purdue

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Pat Summitt thanked her team for helping her tie the NCAA Division I victory record before getting down to what really matters to her.

Tennessee's 94-43 victory over Western Carolina on Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was win No. 879 for Summitt, tying her with former North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith for the most victories in Division I history.

Summitt, however, is focused on advancing in the tournament.

After the victory, the Lady Vols asked their coach if she was excited about trying to break Smith's record in the second round.

"I said, 'Yes, I want your help,'" Summitt said. "I want to get this over with only because we will be going to Philadelphia and we all want to go to Philadelphia."

Top-seeded Tennessee (27-4) will face Purdue in the second round Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to the regional semifinals in Philadelphia.

Summitt is 879-171, while Smith was 879-254 in 36 years with the Tar Heels.

Summitt has been at the top of the women's game for years with six national titles and 15 Final Four appearances.

"I have so much respect and admiration for coach Smith. This is more than just a number," Summitt said immediately after the game.

"The Lady Vols that have played here have been really special. You think about all of them, they made it happen. It says that we've had some of the best players in the history of the game. They're part of my family and my life and for that I say thank you to all of them," she said.

Fittingly, Summitt tied Smith on Tennessee's home court at Thompson-Boling Arena, where the Lady Vols are 252-14 since it opened in 1987. Tennessee has never lost an NCAA game in Knoxville, going 45-0 since the women's tournament began in 1982.

And this is the most appropriate time of year for Summitt, who tops all women's coaches with an 86-17 NCAA Tournament record.

The Lady Vols, and Shanna Zolman in particular, made it easy for Summitt to get the victory.

Western Carolina (18-14), the No. 16 seed in the Philadelphia Regional, was undersized and outmatched from the beginning. Catamounts coach Kellie Harper (nee Jolly), a point guard on Tennessee's three straight titles from 1996-98, could only watch her team fall behind big early.

The Lady Vols increased the lead to double digits, 19-8, with 13:47 left before halftime, and they had a 19-2 run that pushed it to 29 points with 4½ minutes left in the first half. The margin hit 49 on Brittany Jackson's 3-pointer with 12:36 to go in the game.

Zolman matched her career high of 28 points, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Shyra Ely added 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Alexis Hornbuckle had 11 points and 12 rebounds. And, in one of Summitt's favorite statistics, the Lady Vols outrebounded Western Carolina 57-36.

"Pat Summitt is huge for the women's basketball game," Harper said. "She's been a pioneer, a legacy, a legend -- all of those adjectives. And now, her tying Dean Smith allows her legacy to move over to basketball, not just women's basketball, and I think a person like Pat Summitt needs to be a legend in the game of basketball."

Chevon Keith and Monique Dawson each had nine points to lead the Catamounts, who won the Southern Conference tournament to earn the school's first NCAA bid.