3:00 PM ET, December 16, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Angie Bjorklund came out on top against her sister, and helped top-ranked Tennessee remain perfect.The Bjorklund sisters from Spokane Valley, Wash., faced off against each other for the first time in their playing careers, with Angie scoring a team-high 23 points to the Lady Vols to a 93-73 victory over unranked Gonzaga. Older sister Jami had 19 points for the Bulldogs.Angie Bjorklund also tied Shanna Zolman's school record with seven 3-pointers. She had several chances to break the mark late in the second half, but couldn't connect against her sister's defense."I said, 'there's no way, Angie. I'm not going to let you break that record on me,'" Jami Bjorklund said. "Then I heard the crowd getting into it and it really pumped me up. It was kind of like the old days, playing 1-on-1 against each other."Candace Parker scored 18 points and Nicky Anosike had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Vols (9-0), who played the last of five straight home games and won't return to Thompson-Boling Arena until Jan. 10.Tennessee used a 15-0 first-half spurt to take a 24-9 lead 8 minutes into the game. The advantage grew to 20 points at the break and as many as 33 during the second half.Jami Bjorklund was sought after by several West Coast schools and chose to stay close to home. The 5-foot-11 junior guard had 19 points against the Lady Vols on 8-of-13 shooting. She was averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds for Gonzaga (6-4) coming into the game.On the other hand, Angie, one of the nation's top high-school players last season, committed to Tennessee as a junior. The 6-foot guard, in the rare position of starting as a freshman for the defending national champions, was averaging 9.4 points and almost four rebounds coming in."She was very composed," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "She shot extremely well. I've challenged her in all aspects. She had three defensive rebounds. That's been a point of emphasis for her."Since they play the same position, the sisters defended against each other for part of the game and ended up in a tangled heap on the floor fighting for a loose ball in the second half.Jami Bjorklund sounded relieved that the experience of playing her sister in the big time was over."I didn't really know what to expect coming into it," she said. "I didn't think it would be as fun as it was, but I am really thankful to come down here and play against Tennessee and my sister. It was a very memorable moment for me in my life."Summitt said last week that Angie hadn't even thought of what might happen if she had to guard her big sister. That situation might have given them a chance to catch up on family news as the siblings hadn't seen each other since August. They spoke last week by phone, avoiding trash talk while trying to set a time for a reunion.Sunday's game also posed a wardrobe problem for parents Jim and Kris Bjorklund, which was solved with a pair of scissors. They cut t-shirts for each school into halves and sewed the disparate parts together, creating what Jami called "Tenn-zaga" wear.Then again, the Bjorklunds are probably used to solving sibling-related issues by now. The sisters would often have their father drive them to gyms at very early hours of the morning to practice against each other to hone their abilities.Their desire to improve may have been understandable considering family history. Steve Ranniger, their uncle, played basketball at Oregon, while maternal grandfather Duane Ranniger played at Washington State. Their paternal grandfather, Leon Bjorklund, ran track at Washington.Summitt said the game was scheduled after Angie committed to the Lady Vols. Tennessee will return the favor by traveling to Gonzaga next season.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press