3:30 PM ET, March 3, 2006
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Tennessee's difficult regular season is over, and the Lady Vols sent a clear message in their first game of the SEC tournament."This is a whole new season now," guard Shanna Zolman said.Candace Parker had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Zolman added 16 points and six assists to lead Tennessee (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) over Auburn 77-45 in Friday's quarterfinals.The Lady Vols haven't been their dominant selves this season, finishing second in the SEC at 11-3. Point guard Alexis Hornbuckle was lost last month with a broken wrist, and Tennessee has started only one player -- Parker -- every game in 2005-06.But the Lady Vols (26-4) were overwhelming from the start against Auburn, jumping ahead 13-0. Tennessee smothered the Tigers (14-15) on defense, holding them to four assists and 28-percent shooting."Normally we open in a zone," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "We opened in a man -- I wanted us to come out and pressure, have good energy."Parker, the SEC's freshman of the year, scored all her points in the first half as the Lady Vols built a 40-26 lead. She was happy just to be playing in an SEC tournament after redshirting last season while recovering from two operations on her left knee."Every game isn't promised," she said.Parker tweaked her right knee in the first half but said the injury wasn't serious. She took only two shots in the second.Zolman, a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior, went 4-of-6 from 3-point range. She has 78 3-pointers this season, one shy of Kara Lawson's school record.Three of Zolman's 3-pointers came during Tennessee's 24-3 run to start the second half. That gave the Lady Vols a 35-point lead, their biggest of the game."Tennessee was outstanding today," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. "They shot the ball extremely well, and just absolutely just manhandled us. We didn't have an answer for it. It was a long day for us."Tennessee has lost to two unranked teams in one season for the first time since the women's rankings started in 1976. The Lady Vols also had more than one regular-season SEC loss for the first time since 1997. That year, they finished 8-4 in league play before rallying to win the second of three straight national championships.Tennessee would love to go on a similar run this season, and Summitt said her players approached Friday's game with plenty of intensity."I think this team knows what they have to bring," Summitt said.Tye'sha Fluker led Tennessee with 19 points. She also had eight rebounds. The Lady Vols will play either No. 12 Georgia or No. 23 Vanderbilt in the semifinals Saturday night.Sherell Hobbs led the Tigers with 11 points, and DeWanna Bonner added 10.Tennessee eliminated Auburn from the SEC tournament for the third time in four years. The Lady Vols' last loss to the Tigers anywhere was in the 1997 tournament.The Lady Vols were coming off a 95-93 overtime loss to Florida on Sunday, their second home loss to an unranked team and first in 22 years. Auburn had the misfortune of playing them next."They're notorious for coming back after a loss and getting after you," Fortner said.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||16-52 (.308)||29-50 (.580)|
|3P Made-Attempted||1-12 (.083)||7-13 (.538)|
|FT Made-Attempted||12-23 (.522)||12-15 (.800)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||14 (0/0)||20 (0/0)|