Forward Candace Parker began the game by blocking Louisiana Tech's shots on its first two offensive possessions and finished with seven blocks for the game. That set the tone for the first 20 minutes of the game.
But the Lady Vols – perhaps peeking ahead to Sunday's matchup with North Carolina – let up in the second half and left Coach Pat Summitt pleased with the first half of basketball but peeved about the latter half of the game.
Still, Tennessee ends the month of November undefeated and ranked No. 4 in the country. No. 2 North Carolina, 6-0, has only to get by UNC-Greensboro on Thursday to set up a match of unbeatens Sunday in Chapel Hill before a national television audience on EPSN at 8 p.m.
"We showed great intensity on the defensive end," Summitt said of the first half on her post-game radio show with Mickey Dearstone, but she found the second half to be lacking.
The Lady Techsters shot 21.4 percent in the first half and hit their only three-point attempt. The game was essentially over halfway through the first half.
Tennessee had four players in double figures led by forward Dominique Redding, who scored 13 points and had three rebounds.
Redding has always been able to score, but Summitt is asking her to be a better defender and rebounder this season.
"I'm never satisfied with my game," Redding said when asked about her performance. "I just feel like I've got to get better – more energy on defense and more boards because that's what we need."
Redding pointed out that she scored her number, but "I'm going for more," she said, after Dearstone asked if she was settling for 13.
Point guard Cait McMahan added seven points, a career high, and also had three assists to zero turnovers. She started in place of junior Shannon Bobbitt, who stayed in Knoxville because of a heavy academic load – tests and a paper due – this week. McMahan got her first bucket by driving to the lane and nailing the twisting layup, plus hitting the free throw after she was fouled. She also had four rebounds and a steal.
"I thought Cait got us off to a very good start," Summitt said on the radio show. "Cait is a player that wants to get it right."
On defense, Tennessee did do a better job of defending behind the arc – the Lady Techsters were 4-10 – but the Lady Vols lost the battle of the boards, 46-37. Parker had eight, as did Alexis Hornbuckle, and Nicky Anosike tallied six. But as Summitt went deep to the bench – no starter played more than 25 minutes except for Hornbuckle (31) – and substituted freely, the intensity ebbed and flowed. Tennessee's rebounding margin on the season dipped to +3.5.
"We didn't do a good job on the defensive end of boxing out," Summitt said.
Dearstone asked Summitt if the team, in the second half, might have been looking ahead to Sunday's game.
"There may have been some of that once we got out to a good lead," said Summitt, who added she told the team at halftime, "Let's compete. We did that in spurts."
Tennessee will take the win and regroup in Knoxville before leaving this weekend for Chapel Hill and a showdown with the Tar Heels at Carmichael Auditorium.
"I thought why not," Summitt told Dearstone when asked about scheduling yet another top program in a season full of challenges. "It's a short trip. It's a great program."
NOTES: The 19 first half turnovers by Louisiana Tech were the most by a UT opponent this season. … Alexis Hornbuckle kept her steals' streak alive in fine fashion. She had six – and now has at least one in 42 straight games – and moved past Kellie Jolly (177) into 20th place in the UT record books for career steals (180). She had four steals in the first eight minutes. … Candace Parker keeps climbing the record book for blocks. She became the eighth Lady Vol all time to reach the 100-block plateau. Her seven blocks tied a personal best, tied for the most ever by a UT sophomore and vaulted her into seventh place in the record books for career blocks (103), past Daedra Charles (97), Vonda Ward (98) and Abby Conklin (102). Chamique Holdsclaw is next on the list with 115. … Alberta Auguste had a career-high eight steals, five of which came in the first half.