Lady Vols DeFeat DePaul

Tennessee ended the suspense early and continued a streak of excellence that's unsurpassed in the history of college basketball by qualifying for its 23rd straight Sweet 16 with a commanding, 79-59, victory over DePaul in the second round of the NCAA Tournament played at the Leon Center in Tallahassee, Fla.

The victory propels the Lady Vols to the Midwest Regional semifinal at Norman, Okla., where they face No. 4 seed Baylor on Sunday. The Lady Bears reached the round of 16 by topping Florida.

After falling behind 3-0 to start the game, Tennessee (28-3) came roaring back with a 10-0 run en route to a lead that bulged to 27-points in the first half and 50-24 at half-time. The Lady Vols extended the lead to 30, at 54-24 to open the second half and coasted to s 20-point win over a team that took them to overtime a Dec. 17 regular season encounter.

UT's methodology was more impressive than its margin of victory. Against a dangerous DePaul team that destroyed No. 8 seed George Washington in Saturday's opening round, the Lady Vols dominated the glass, pushed the tempo and played vintage Tennessee man defense. Senior center Ashley Robinson pulled down 12 boards in the first half alone, matching the Blue Demons' team total for the opening period of play. She finished with a career high 14 rebounds as UT owned a 55-30 rebounding lead.

Shanna Zolman paced a balanced Tennessee attack with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. Zolman scored all of her points in the decisive first half leading the Vols 52.5 percent shooting clip. LaToya Davis and Shyra Ely scored 12 points each for UT while Brittany Jackson added 11 and Tasha Butts and Sidney Spencer had 10 points each. Davis also grabbed 10 boards for the Lady Vols to earn a double-double.

Khara Smith, who victimized UT for 23 points in the first meeting got in early foul trouble and was held scoreless in the first half. She scored 13 in the second half to tie for team-high honors with Charlene Smith and Ashley Luke. The Demon Deacons (23-7) were held to 25 percent from the field in the first half.

UT coach Pat Summitt now has 82 NCAA tournament wins while her career total is 849 victories, second only to Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp among college basketball coaches.

A reported crowd of only 1,820 watched Monday's contest, as the NCAA's move from the host team format appears to be an early financial failure.


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