KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After a week that saw Tennessee lose a tight game at home and barely win on the road, coach Pat Summitt was happy to have an easy victory for her young team against old-time rival Louisiana Tech.
The Lady Volunteers (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) followed up a loss to Virginia and a narrow win over Chattanooga with a 94-59 win over the Lady Techsters on Sunday.
"We've made a lot of progress, but we haven't arrived yet," Summitt said. "We took a step forward, and we'll be better because of it."
This marked the last time that these two longtime women's basketball foes will face each other in the regular season.
Tennessee was forced to eliminate a few regular non-conference opponents because the Southeastern Conference will move to divisional play in 2009-10, creating more SEC games each season.
The programs have met at least once every year since the 1978-79 season and played each other for the 1981, 1987 and 1998 national title games, with Louisiana Tech taking the first and Tennessee grabbing the other two.
Tech's 17 wins in the series are the most by any program against Tennessee in the modern era, but the Lady Vols have won the last nine games and lead the series 24-17.
"We've played them every year. It doesn't get any better, and I wish it could continue" said Louisiana Tech coach Chris Long.
In their last meeting on Sunday, Tennessee overcame streaky, sloppy first half play thanks to the performance of Vicki Baugh. Playing in only her second game back after recovering from knee surgery, Baugh had 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks -- all before sitting for good with 14:52 left to rest her knee.
Summitt thought Baugh's presence on the floor in the last two games have inspired several of her six freshmen players to perform better. It certainly showed in their scoring
Amber Gray and Alyssia Brewer each had 16 points to lead the Lady Vols (3-1). Glory Johnson added 12.
"We always talk about having each other's back and listening to each other on the floor. Listening isn't always what somebody is saying to you, but it's about what somebody's showing you," Gray said.
Whitney Jones, the only starter who didn't get in early foul trouble, led Louisiana Tech (1-2) with 23 points. Keshia Warren grabbed 10 rebounds.
"I just came out and played hard. Coach told us in the locker room to come out and play tough. He told us Tennessee would be aggressive, and I just came out to give it all I got," Jones said.
Ahead 40-33 at the half, Tennessee came out on a 19-3 run, punctuated by a jumper plus one by Glory Johnson to give the Lady Vols a 52-36 lead with 16:40 left.
With just over 10 minutes left Louisiana Tech starters Jasmine Bendolph, Tiawana Pringle, Adrienne Johnson and Shanavia Dowdell had four fouls apiece. The Lady Vols wore down the Lady Techsters from there.
The first half was marked by hot-and-cold streaks, and both teams struggled with sloppy play and ball control. Tennessee had 34 points off 28 Louisiana Tech turnovers, and the Lady Techsters had 12 points off 16 Lady Vols turnovers.
Louisiana Tech went cold for 3 1/2 minutes and Tennessee went on a 13-0 run to go ahead 34-19 with 5:10 to go before halftime on a free throw by Gray.
The Lady Techsters answered with their own 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 38-33 just before the break.