Ely leads exhibition romp

The Lady Vol basketball team opened its 2003-04 season with an 86-57 win against the West Coast All-Stars in an exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 9, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee was led by junior Shyra Ely, who collected a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The preseason first-team All-SEC pick also chipped in four assists and two steals in just 23 minutes of action. Senior Tasha Butts equaled Ely's scoring output with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a 3-of-5 mark from three-point land. Sophomore Shanna Zolman and junior Brittany Jackson also posted double-digit scoring totals with 13 and 11 points, respectively, while senior Ashley Robinson nearly earned a double-double with nine rebounds and seven points.

Despite the lopsided final score, UT's opposition proved tough in the first half, as the West Coast All-Stars trailed the Lady Vols by just six points, 36-30, at halftime.

''I think our team needed a game like this,'' Head Coach Pat Summitt said. ''The West Coast All-Stars gave us the kind of challenges that we needed with their perimeter quickness and aggressive play from their posts. We made some adjustments at halftime and responded well.''

Following the intermission, the Lady Vols appeared to break the game open with a five-point run thanks to a Butts three off a Zolman assist and a 10-foot jumper by Ely, but the West Coast All-Stars would not go away quietly. After a short rally that cut UT's lead to nine (49-40) at the 14:45-minute mark, Tennessee finally put the game out of reach by outscoring the competition 26-8 over the next 9:37 to push the score to a comfortable 75-48 advantage.

''Tennessee stepped up in the second half,'' West Coast All-Stars Head Coach Jerry Gatewood said. ''They played better defense and were able to adjust. We tried to keep them off balance throughout the game. They passed the test with a sense of urgency.''

On the night, the Lady Vols shot 46 percent (29-63), including 56.7 percent (17-30) in the second half, while holding the West Coast All-Stars to 29.5-percent shooting. The Orange and White also held a large advantage on the boards, snaring 52 rebounds to the opposition's 36.

UT will be in action again on Tuesday, Nov. 18, when it hosts Athletes in Action at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. The contest will be Tennessee's final exhibition game before the regular season begins on Sunday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. against Chattanooga in Knoxville.


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