Generator power was used to keep the lights on – though the players restarted under rather dim conditions while the lights warmed up each time – and allow the game to be officially completed.
Tennessee, 6-0, was dominant on both ends against Georgia Tech, 3-4, with an abundance of power from Glory Johnson. The junior forward finished with a stat line of 5-7 from the field and 5-6 from the line for 15 points, a career-high 18 rebounds – "Ridiculous," Johnson said on the post-game radio show of the total – three assists and just two fouls in 29 minutes of play.
Her 18 single-game rebounds were six off the Lady Vol record held by Patricia Roberts, who tallied 24 in 1977. Daedra Charles and Karla Horton both had 22 in a game in 1991 and 1985, respectively, with four players notching 20 in a game.
"Wow, that's a goal for myself," Johnson said. "I've got to keep it up there."
Mickey Dearstone, the voice of the Lady Vols, joked with Johnson afterwards that the staff protected Charles' record by pulling Johnson out of the game. Charles is now Daedra Charles-Furlow and is the team's director of character development.
"I think so, too," Johnson said while laughing.
Tennessee's players started the game Friday evening as if they intended to show Coach Pat Summitt that they could have fun in paradise, yet still be ready when it was time to play.
"We started so strong, and we were so confident, and we had so much energy from the beginning of the game," Johnson told Dearstone, who selected her as the player of the game. "I am so proud of my team for coming out strong. We've got to deal with being in the Virgin Islands, and we want to be relaxed, but when we get on the court, it's game time."
Johnson didn't even mind the repeated interruptions in the second half.
"The blackouts were rough, but at the same time I'm in the Virgin Islands," Johnson said. "I'll take a couple blackouts to play in the Virgin Islands any day."
It certainly didn't affect her play in either half. Johnson had nine rebounds in the first and nine in the second. She was 2-3 from the field before halftime and 3-4 after the break to lead all scorers with 15 points.
"She was just all over the glass," Summitt said on her post-game radio show. "She played hard the entire time. Just really, really pleased with Glory and what's she bringing to our basketball team. She is obviously one of the quickest athletes on our team. I like what she's doing – she's playing within herself, she's doing a great job of attacking the glass."
Tennessee's lead was in single digits until midway through the first half when the Lady Vols stymied Georgia Tech on the offensive end. The Yellow Jackets got the game's first basket on a wing jumper by Tyaunna Marshall, and still held the lead, 7-5, when Alex Montgomery hit a three-pointer at the 18:26 mark of the first half.
But Tennessee was also scoring in a variety of ways – jump shots, drives to the basket and after a defensive rebound by Johnson – one of 10 she had for the game – on a coast-to-coast drive by Shekinna Stricklen.
At the first media timeout of 15:37, Tennessee led 12-9, and was shooting 66.7 percent. Georgia Tech was shooting 60.0 percent, and that would end up being the highlight for the Yellow Jackets.
Tennessee went on a 20-4 run after that timeout and led 32-13 at the 6:22 mark of the first half.
During the run, Stricklen blocked Marshall's layup attempt, got the rebound and scooted down court for a three-pointer.
Also, during that run, redshirt junior forward Vicki Baugh checked in at the 13:14 mark and logged seven minutes in her first game action since the opener at Louisville. She helped keep the team's running game on track with a steal and passed the ball to Stricklen, who tossed to Johnson, who sent a touch pass Angie Bjorklund's way for a three-pointer and a 24-11 lead. Bjorklund is now 18 treys away from the all-time Tennessee mark of 266.
Baugh also had two rebounds and, given the lengthy delays of 13:32, 11:30, 10:45 and 7:45 in the second half when the players waited for the lights to return, she didn't return after halftime as the game plan remains to ease her into action.
"At first, I really didn't mind the stoppages in the second half," Summitt said. "It gave us some breaks but it was hard to stay focused when they became more frequent. But what are you going to do? It was happening around the island."
Summitt was extremely pleased with the first 20 minutes of play when Tennessee took a 46-17 lead into the locker room. Dearstone said he thought it was the best 20 minutes the team had played this season.
"I totally agree with you," Summitt said. "I am just really pleased with how they came out and played. Obviously had a little adversity going on but it didn't bother them. They sat there (during the dark stints) and when they got up they were getting on the court and getting the job done."
Tennessee had just four turnovers in the first half – compared to 14 for Georgia Tech – despite the ball pressure of the Yellow Jackets as the guards broke the press and took care of the ball.
"They did," Summitt said. "We had some breakdowns in the second half but I thought first half we were pretty solid with ball security. We ran some up action (the posts come to the high block) and got some backdoor looks (from cutters to the basket)."
"Overall I am really pleased with our basketball team and how we played on the defensive end and getting on the boards."
The second half fizzled, especially compared to the first half, though Johnson remained scorching hot. She darted from the paint to save a long rebound off a missed three-pointer, reached the ball a split-second before a Georgia Tech player did and managed to knock it off that player to save possession for Tennessee.
She reached way behind her to snare a rebound in the paint off another missed three and put the ball back in for a 48-20 lead, and Tennessee's first basket of the second half. Johnson's leaping ability was on display in both the rebound and the basket.
Dearstone asked Summitt if she was surprised by Johnson's leaping ability, which is preternatural.
"I am. I'm surprised," Summitt said. "You don't have that jump. We've both got credit card jumps (meaning only a credit card would fit in the space between the shoe and the ground after the leap). I think sometimes you find people just watching her and amazed at the athleticism and how she plays this game and how passionate she is."
Neither team produced much offense in the second half – 20 points for Tennessee and 25 for Georgia Tech – and Summitt kept her post players on the bench after Johnson departed in the second half. Cain played just four minutes in the second half, and Stricklen, a point guard/small forward, defended on the low block late in the game, getting a tie-up and a block.
All 11 available players logged minutes in the game. Briana Bass, who logged minutes in both halves, held the ball for the final seconds for the final 66-42 outcome.
Tennessee used its matchup zone to flummox Georgia Tech's offense for much of the game. Dean Lockwood had said in his pre-game scouting report that he expected Tennessee to deploy its zone at this tourney.
"We talked about it. It was Dean's scout, and I said, ‘Dean, I really think we can zone these people and affect them.' And he goes, ‘I totally agree with you,' " Summitt said. "Across the board our entire staff felt like our length would bother them and hopefully keep them from getting a lot of paint points."
Tennessee didn't allow a single Yellow Jacket to score in double figures – the last time the Lady Vols accomplished that feat was March 18, 2007, versus Drake in the NCAA Tournament.
Georgia Tech was led by Montgomery with nine points and six rebounds. Senior guard Deja Foster, who was making her first appearance this season after an injury, added eight points and six rebounds. Metra Walthour chipped in with six points and seven rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets had eight assists, seven steals and 24 turnovers, which Tennessee converted into 28 points.
Georgia Tech shot 33.3 percent for the game (17-51) – 30.4 percent in the first half and 35.7 percent in the second – 25.0 percent from long range (4-16) and 40.0 percent from the line (4-10).
Tennessee had two players in double figures with Johnson's 15 points and 14 from freshman Meighan Simmons, who has now hit double digits in her first six games as a Lady Vol. Stricklen added nine points with Taber Spani chipping in with eight, and Bjorklund tallying seven. Kelley Cain added six after going 3-3 from the field.
The Lady Vols had 12 assists, 10 steals, six blocks and 14 turnovers, which Georgia Tech converted into eight points. Tennessee came up short on the boards – 36 to Georgia Tech's 37, but most of the bigs spent most of the game on the bench with Johnson being the exception and snaring the 18 rebounds, the most since she had 15 against Mississippi State last season. Alicia Manning grabbed three rebounds, while Stricklen had five.
Tennessee shot 42.3 percent for the game (22-52) – 51.9 percent in the first half and 32.0 percent in the second – 29.4 percent from long range (5-17 after starting the game 4-9) and a much-improved 73.9 percent from the line (17-23).
Summitt and Johnson attributed the energy level to open the game to the way the minutes were spread among the players in Thursday's 82-44 win over Missouri, which surprised No. 12/13 Georgetown with a 54-45 defeat on Friday in the Reef Division.
"I think the coaches did a great job of that," Johnson said. "They were explaining it to us. ‘Don't worry about minutes. We're trying to share minutes.' They did that really well."
The explanation meant the players knew the reason they were rotating in and out wasn't because of poor performance but to ensure fresh legs for the three games in three days.
"I thought that was real important," Summitt said. "I wanted to limit minutes and space it out."
Tennessee didn't have to overtax anyone that much Friday either – Bjorklund logged 33 minutes with Johnson at 29 and Stricklen at 27. No one else went over 23 minutes. Stricklen took a knee to the quad in the second and came out of the game – she has chronic issues with quad tendonitis – but she left under her own power and appeared to be OK.
Tennessee will try to stay undefeated Saturday and claim a 3-0 record on the island when it faces Georgetown, 4-1, at 8 p.m. Eastern. Summitt watched some of the Hoyas' Friday loss.
"They didn't have a whole lot of energy in the game that we watched," Summitt said on her radio show. "But it's a new day and they'll come out fired up and ready to go. There's no doubt because I know we're going to get the best shot.
"We've got to be ready, and I think our basketball team will be."
SCOUTING REPORT: Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick handled the scouting report for the Tennessee-Georgetown game. Here is her assessment.
When Georgetown has the ball: Despite Saturday being the third consecutive game for both teams, the pace should still be accelerated.
"They're very athletic," Warlick said. "They push the ball. They want to score off their defense and turnovers. They've got long-range three-point shooters. They play hard."
Defensively, Georgetown depends on its attacking style of defense, much like Tennessee.
"They're pressing a lot, and they're playing aggressive man to man," Warlick said.
When Tennessee has the ball: One of the Lady Vols strengths is their post play, but it hasn't been evident early in the season because of health issues. Still, the minutes played by Kelley Cain, a 6'6 center, have been very efficient, and Tennessee wants to get her the ball. That can be done in the half-court sets or in early offense before the defense can get set.
"We're going to go inside, push the ball," Warlick said. "We're going to press as well. We're going to do what we've been doing, press, run, try to get the ball inside, play inside-out."
Defensively, the teams will play a very similar style, but with a nod to the fact that it's the third game in three days.
"We're not going to be able to press for three games in a row the whole game," Warlick said. "We're going to have to strategically use our zone, use our man. It's going to be a good challenge for us because it's the third game and Georgetown is outstanding. They're a great team. They're athletic. They've been very impressive to me."
ODDS AND ENDS
The series between Tennessee and Georgetown is 0-0 as they have never played each other. The Hoyas will be the 181st all-time opponent for the Lady Vols. … Tennessee is 7-0 in games played on November 27. The last win on this date was against George Washington, 88-57, in 2001. The first win on November 27 was against Eastern Kentucky, 91-67, in 1978. … Georgetown's Tia Magee is from Tulsa, Okla., and crossed basketball paths with Tennessee's Alyssia Brewer, who is from Sapulpa, Okla. The two also are good friends. Magee had five points, eight rebounds and three steals in Friday's game against Missouri. Brewer remains out of action as she recovers from Achilles tendon surgery but has returned to practice on a limited basis and made the trip to St. Thomas. She is not yet cleared for full speed activity, but it is projected that she could play game minutes when Tennessee travels to the state of Texas in mid-December. … Tennessee and Georgia Tech will play again in the not-too-distant future. Mickey Dearstone said during Friday's radio broadcast that a home-and-home with the Yellow Jackets will start next season. Atlanta is a fertile recruiting market, and the state of Georgia is rich in talent.