"I have to give props to the fans because it was like a sixth man out there," said Lady Vol Angie Bjorklund, who tallied 16 points and hit one trey, giving her 262 for her career and now just four away from tying the program record of 266. "They really got us going when we needed it, and we fed off the crowd's energy."
Tennessee led for nearly the entire game – including a fast start that electrified a crowd ready to cheer on a chilly Sunday evening – but with 9:07 left in regulation Jeanette Pohlen connected from behind the arc on a feed from Kayla Pedersen and for the first time the Lady Vols trailed, 56-53.
Meighan Simmons hit a 14-footer to pull Tennessee to within one, 56-55, but Stanford stretched the lead to six points, 61-55, after another Pohlen three-pointer and then a layup from Nnemkadi Ogwumike with 7:30 to go.
Summitt made the decision to move Glory Johnson to the perimeter to defend – leaving Taber Spani and Shekinna Stricklen to try to handle the bigs inside – and the gamble worked as Johnson disrupted Stanford's offensive flow and didn't allow Pohlen a decent look at the basket. The Lady Vols managed to twice tie the game – none bigger than Simmons' three to knot the game at 70 with 48 seconds left to play – and then get to the overtime.
Pohlen hit one more three in the game – putting Stanford up 70-67 at the 1:05 mark, setting up Simmons' deep three off a Kelley Cain screen – but that was after Johnson had moved back into the paint on defense and twice stole the intended entry pass to Ogwumike to preserve the tie.
"It was two great teams that battled hard," Summitt said. "I was very, very proud that we didn't panic when they went up by (six). I thought we kept our composure and really stayed focused.
"Glory, while she didn't shoot well at all (0-5 from the field), she just locked Pohlen down. That was big for us because she was having her way. I just went in the huddle and said, ‘We've got to get Glory in that situation, because she's the best athlete on the team.' And she responded. She really did a great job.
"The coaching staff, I have a lot of help on the bench. Don't think I'm calling all the plays by any means. We're constantly talking, and I just thought everyone gave me a lot of good information, and a lot of our coaches did a lot of talking, and that's how we run our program, so a lot of basketball minds were there."
"I'm really proud of how our team competed," VanDerveer said. "I thought Tennessee played very well and I congratulate them. We had opportunities to win the game because of the great play by Jeanette and Nneka. I thought they both stepped up really well but we made some bad mistakes down the stretch and we had too many turnovers in the second half.
"Credit Tennessee, they hit some very big shots and as always I think Pat does a great job and the team really competed as our team did."
It was a much-needed win for Tennessee, one game after the Lady Vols fell at Baylor, a game in which Summitt thought her team played intimidated and Tennessee set a program record for lowest shooting percentage at 25.0 percent.
"It's huge for us," Summitt said. "I couldn't even think other than we've got to find a way to win. What a great crowd. Awesome. Greatest fans in the women's game. We didn't want to let them down, either."
Tennessee played from the opening tip as if it was ready to expunge any lingering effects from the loss to Baylor.
"Oh, it was huge," Bjorklund said. "We've been working all week to prepare for this game. We couldn't dwell too much on the Baylor game. We had to just watch film, learn from it and move on. We did a good job of focusing in practices, and that helped us a lot."
Simmons got the scoring started for Tennessee when she slipped behind Stricklen and buried a three-pointer off a Spani pass. Spani connected on a three from a pass by Bjorklund and when Johnson was swarmed inside she bounced a pass to Spani behind the arc for another three and Tennessee led, 9-4, at the 17:09 mark of the first half.
Simmons connected from the corner, and Stricklen scored in transition for a 16-6 lead at the 15:11 mark of the first half. The perimeter players for Tennessee were getting loose while scrums were breaking out in the paint. When Stricklen scored in transition, one player from each team – Tennessee's Johnson and Stanford's Ogwumike – didn't make it to the other end because they ended up in a tangled heap on the other end under the basket.
Tennessee kept scoring from outside with an up-and-under move from Bjorklund, followed by a corner three from the senior sharpshooter for a 21-10 lead at the 13:47 mark.
Stanford cut it back to single digits on a jumper from Ogwumike, 21-12, at the 11:53 mark and on the Cardinal's next offensive possession, Assistant Coach Mickie DeMoss leaped off the bench and pointed to the shot clock. An alley-oop to Ogwumike didn't draw iron, but the clock had reset.
Summitt spun around and smiled at DeMoss, as the officials called time and headed to a courtside replay monitor, which confirmed what the assistant coach saw live.
While the crowd waited, one section started the wave and it spread around the arena, much to the amusement of Tennessee's players, who watched and smiled. It was a sign of the crowd's energy and enthusiasm, which they kept for all 50 minutes of the game.
"I think that helped a lot," Stricklen said. "Just having a lot of fans there cheering you on nonstop builds a lot of energy. We really fed off that, and I give a lot of credit to our fans. We love them, and we thank them."
The shot clock was changed to 14 seconds instead of a reset, and Stanford, now facing a matchup zone because Kelley Cain had entered the game for Tennessee – didn't score on the possession.
Cain got a block while playing help-side defense and in the scramble for the ball it went to Bjorklund who got the ball to Alicia Manning, who fired ahead to Simmons for a layup and 23-12 lead with 10:41 to play before the break.
Bjorklund twice found Cain inside – once she was fouled and hit one free throw and the second time hit the turn-around – for a 26-15 lead at the 8:37 mark of the first half. That was followed by Bjorklund stepping inside the arc for a 17-footer and a 28-15 lead. The margin for Tennessee reached its biggest at 14 points when Kamiko Williams hit a turn-around in the low block for a 30-16 lead with 7:20 left before halftime.
Vicki Baugh also had just entered the game and while she remains on rusty on offense she played pass and catch with Cain, getting Cain a wide-open layup after drawing the defense to her and also had an athletic offensive rebound, landed near the baseline under the basket and managed to bounce a perfect pass to Bjorklund behind the arc. Bjorklund barely misfired, and it gave a glimpse of what Baugh can bring to the team. Baugh also affected a shot by Ogwumike on the other end and tipped the rebound to Simmons.
"It was good for her to be out there," Summitt said. "I thought offensively she needs to let it come to her. She's trying too hard to go in and score, and that's something we can talk about. If we just get her to buy into defense and board play, then she'll get a lot of offense."
Stanford started to cut into the lead after Pedersen – who had been bottled up by Bjorklund – connected on a three-pointer to pull Stanford to 30-19 with 4:20 left in the first half. That was followed by layups from Pohlen and Ogwumike and Tennessee's lead was just six points, 30-23.
Pohlen drained a three after a Simmons' basket and the lead was down to 32-26 with 2:46 left before the break. Williams hit a deep jumper, and Baugh got a block and then converted the bank shot on the other end for a 36-26 lead with less than two minutes left in the first half.
By the time halftime arrived, Tennessee's lead was 39-31, due to a Spani free throw and Cain layup off the feed from Baugh with Stanford getting its final five points from the free throw line from Pedersen, Chiney Ogwumike and Toni Kokenis.
Stanford attacked after the break and didn't take long to trim the lead to two points, 42-40, on two Pohlen free throws at the 17:16 mark.
"I thought they were shot out of a cannon," Summitt said. "I think it wasn't as much us as it was Stanford. They came to play, and they knew they had to be really aggressive and I don't think we responded quite as well early on that.
"At our second timeout I think that's when we had the conversation about what we had to do. Instead of them putting us on our heels, we had to go after them."
Stricklen hit a three-pointer on a feed from Williams to push the lead to five points, 45-40, with 17:01 left but after the second media timeout at the 11:27 mark the game was tied, 51-51.
"I think in the second half we were really setting some good screens," Pohlen said. "We decided to run some sets that got me some picks and flares and they were going under so I just read the defense and if I was open I would shoot it.
"That is really the only thing we changed. We had some great picks for some open shots."
Stricklen slipped back to the point guard position and Bjorklund hit a short wing jumper after a shot fake for a 53-51 lead with 11:13 to play. But Stanford knotted the game at 53 on a layup by Nneka Ogwumike.
Tennessee then lost the lead for the first time in the game when Pohlen connected from behind the arc. The lead extended to six points, 61-55, on an Ogwumike layup with 7:30 left to play.
The deficit didn't rattle Tennessee – or the crowd, which opted to just cheer louder.
"I think everybody just came together," Simmons said. "That was a time when Pat called a timeout. She just said, ‘We're not going to lose this game.' I think once Pat got on us a little bit more and we thought in our minds, ‘Well, hey, we don't want to lose this game in our house.'
"I just think that everybody thought about what they needed to do to help the team win, and we just brought all of that together and we became one."
Spani connected on two free throws to trim the lead to four points, 61-57, but Kokenis got a putback, and the lead went back to six points, 63-57, with 6:17 to play.
Simmons connected on two free throws – both Spani and Simmons' points at the stripe came after getting fouled on rebounds – and Bjorklund hit a long jumper after crossing over Pedersen to cut the lead to two points, 63-61, with 5:17 left.
Simmons tied it from the line – once again fouled while rebounding – and Spani got Tennessee up by two, 65-63, after a drive and layup that curled over the rim with 2:55 left. That play was preceded by Bjorklund drawing a charge on the other end that brought the crowd to its feet and touched off an eruption on the Tennessee bench.
Ogwumike tied it with a layup and then hit a baseline jumper over Cain to give Stanford the lead, 67-65, with 2:55 to play. On Stanford's next offensive play, Spani fouled Ogwumike as she cut to the basket, but she missed the front end of the one and one and Bjorklund tied the game on a jumper, 67-67, with 1:20 to play.
Pohlen connected from behind the arc – Johnson had to return to the paint to defend Ogwumike – to give Stanford a 70-67 lead, but Simmons used a Cain screen to tie the game at 70 with 48 seconds left.
"It was huge, and it got the crowd going," Summitt said. "There was just a lot of positive energy and a lot of confidence when that happened."
Bjorklund has hit her share of clutch threes for Tennessee, and she saluted the shot of the freshman.
"It was huge," Bjorklund said. "It tied the game. I think Meighan's a clutch player. She hit a couple of huge shots for us down the stretch. I always give credit to how confident she is, and so she just needs to keep it up."
It was a long three that looked on line but Simmons wasn't sure when she lofted the shot.
"All I have to say to that is to God be the glory for that shot because I really did not believe that that shot was going in," Simmons said. "I just have to have that confidence that any time I shoot just believe that it's going to go in.
"I think that three just sparked something in the team. I think from then on everybody got it in their mind, ‘Hey, we're not going to lose this game, and we're going to do whatever we can to win.' "
Regulation ended with the score knotted at 70, and Cain, who was instrumental down the stretch, took the floor for the overtime session.
The Lady Vols could have cemented the outcome at the line during the overtime, but they were 3-9 from the stripe to start the extra period after Stricklen, Johnson and Cain misfired. However, Cain, after missing two from the stripe, wasn't boxed out, and she grabbed the rebound away from Ogwumike and converted the layup for a 75-70 lead with 2:35 left.
Cain moves rather methodically as she battles hip and back pain, but she looked nimble on that dash to the rim.
"Let's hope she continues to look really quick," Summitt said. "She's working hard. She's got lower back issues. She has to keep herself mobile. You've got to give her an A for her toughness, because she's really tough."
VanDerveer cited that play in her remarks at the post-game press conference.
"I thought one of the critical things was Kelley Cain getting her offensive board on the free throw when it was a three-point game and went to five points," VanDerveer said. "There is some slippage and I think with our team we have Kayla and Jeanette as our two seniors and Nneka as our junior that really plays.
"I thought our young kids competed really well, Chiney Ogwumike, Sarah Boothe, Toni Kokenis and this was eye-opening for them coming into this arena and being led by the two returners I thought they did a good job."
Tennessee scored just two field goals in the overtime period – Stricklen found Simmons underneath the basket – and sealed the game on the final minute from the line when Bjorklund hit one, Stricklen hit two and Simmons hit two for the final 82-72 outcome.
Johnson's theft of the two entry passes preserved the tie in regulation and Cain's hustle to the ball after the missed free throw nailed the overtime win
"I thought both of them made big plays for us," Summitt said. "The thing about Glory is getting deflections and being able to handle defending out on top of the floor. She hasn't been scoring well, but that's why we have Pratt Pavilion, and it'll be open (Monday). That's something we've really got to work on.
"Kelley, she's got a toughness. I told them, ‘Don't throw at her knees.' She does a great job of getting her hands up and then that allows her to use the glass really well."
The defense of Bjorklund on Pedersen also was key as she rarely let the 6'4 sharpshooter have a good look at the basket and stayed with her throughout the game. Pedersen was 3-16 from the floor, including 1-7 from behind the arc, for 10 points.
"Angie's athletic," Summitt said. "I think a lot of times we think of Angie as nothing but a go-to player offensively, but she's got quick feet, she works really well with her hands and can cut off people. It was good to see her come back in. I wasn't happy with her initially but she came back in and really gave us a lot of good things."
Summitt sat Bjorklund for a short spell – she played 35 minutes – after tossing the ball out of Baugh's reach and not hunting her shot – but the senior's defense was a reason to get her back on the floor.
"Everyone thinks, ‘Angie, all she can do is just shoot,' but tonight I think she proved a lot of people wrong," Stricklen said. "She had great defense on Pedersen; it was like she couldn't even breathe. Angie was all up in her face. That shows you Angie's just a hard worker, offense and defense. I'm just glad she's my teammate."
Stanford missed Pohlen in the overtime. She picked up her fifth foul at the 4:11 mark after colliding with Stricklen on the sideline as she went for a steal.
"It really hurt our team when Jeanette fouled out," VanDerveer said. "That was something that really hurt us in terms of our execution and some of our offense."
"I was so mad at myself, but all you can do is cheer," Pohlen said. "It was very hard to watch that because I want to help, I want to do something, even if I'm not scoring. I was just pretty disappointed in myself."
Sarah Boothe fouled out at the 3:55 mark of overtime after fouling Cain at the basket.
"We just needed to lock down on defense, not foul," Pohlen said. "We needed to keep our hands up, box them out and not let them get second shots. They would get a second shot and we would foul them on the second shot and not the first one."
Cain had four rebounds with one on the offensive end – the one that got her the basket off the missed free throw.
"I give a lot of credit to Kelley," Bjorklund said. "You really don't know she's hurt until after the game. She just puts it aside for her team and she works her hardest when she's out on the floor. She comes up with huge plays towards the end. She's going to fight for us and we know we're going to get it every time."
In the past four regular season games with Stanford, three have gone to overtime. The Cardinal won in Palo Alto in 2007, and Tennessee won in Knoxville in 2008 and 2010.
"I think it just shows that we both have really competitive teams and they are hard fought battles and they are obviously very disappointing to lose," VanDerveer said. "Credit the student-athletes that work really hard to make it such a good game.
"I think that this is a fantastic atmosphere and people came and they saw a great game and they got their money's worth."
Stanford was led by Pohlen with 24 points. Including 6-10 from behind the arc, while Ogwumike added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Pedersen chipped in with 10 points and five boards.
The Cardinal shot 41.3 percent overall (26-63), 36.4 percent from behind the arc (8-22) and 75.0 percent from the line (12-16). Stanford committed 17 turnovers and had 16 assists, seven steals and three blocks.
"I thought we got some good looks and we didn't knock down shots that we needed to," VanDerveer said. "When they got good looks they made shots."
Tennessee was led by Simmons with 23 points, and the freshman has now debuted with 12 consecutive games with double-digit scoring, just two behind the record of 14 held by Chamique Holdsclaw. Bjorklund added 16 points and Stricklen scored 15, giving her 997 for her career, just three points short of 1,000. Spani chipped in with 10 points and hit two treys.
Tennessee shot 43.3 percent overall (29-67), 50.0 percent from long range (7-14) and 68.0 percent from the line (17-25).
Tennessee prevailed on the boards, 43-38, with Johnson leading the way with eight followed by Stricklen and Simmons with seven rebounds each. Bjorklund grabbed five and three players, Cain, Baugh and Spani, had four each. The Lady Vols turned over the ball just 12 times and tallied 15 assists – led by four from Bjorklund, who leads the team with 34 on the season – seven steals and four blocks with two swats each from Baugh and Cain.
Both teams are back in action on Wednesday – Tennessee will face East Tennessee State before breaking for the holidays and Stanford plays close to home at San Francisco and will have the third shot at securing win No. 800 for the head coach.
"I think coach Tara can speak for us, that was not what was on our mind," Ogwumike said. "Obviously coming back from not so spectacular play at DePaul in Chicago, we wanted to come in here and build our definition. We are trying to find out who we are. We are trying our best to capitalize on our assets and most importantly we just wanted to come out here and give our effort and do everything right and get the job done.
"Obviously Tennessee played very well. They were shooting and hitting very nice shots in the first half as well as the second. We just have to keep our composure. I think we are good at keeping poise, but at the same time we have to knock down shots that we were getting and keep our hands out of places where refs will be calling fouls."
San Francisco is helmed by former Cardinal Jennifer Azzi, who is from nearby Oak Ridge, Tenn.
"In some ways I think it's a little ironic," VanDerveer said. "We would have gotten to 800 a lot faster if we had not been playing Tennessee all the time (and) coming here because of Jennifer.
"She's the reason why we have this really good rivalry with Tennessee and playing them. She's the face of Stanford basketball. She really put Stanford on the map."
Tennessee, meanwhile, was happy not to be the team on the other end of the milestone. The players did a good job of absorbing the criticism of Summitt this week and started the game Sunday as if they had something to prove.
One game after Summitt questioned their toughness the Lady Vols could have folded when the Cardinal finally took the lead, but the players on the court responded and those on the bench knelt on the floor to peer around the coaches, all of whom were standing, and screamed for stops when Stanford had the ball.
That response was a direct result of the outcome in Waco, after which Summitt conducted a "roll call" of the team in terms of commitment and investment as a team.
"We really learned that if our shots aren't falling, we have got to play defense, and there were a couple of stretches when our shots weren't falling," Bjorklund said. "But we got it together, and we didn't let that get us down, and we fed off of our defense instead of our offense.
"I was proud of our team. We learned a lot from that game, and we came back and bounced back, and we did a great job."
VIDEO COVERAGE: Video coverage of post-game press conferences.
Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt
Lady Vol players Angie Bjorklund, Meighan Simmons and Shekinna Stricklen
Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer and players Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Jeanette Pohlen