Homeward Bound

<p>Pat Summitt's 881st victory was her fifth against Texas Tech; the Lady Raiders have never beaten the Volunteers. In a rough-and-tumble match during which LaToya Davis, the junior power forward who serves as Tech's emotional center, sustained a first-half knee injury that benched her until halftime, Tennessee dominated, jumping out to an early double-digit lead and holding on all game long.

All-time winningest college basketball coach Summitt had targeted Erin Grant as the Vols' most dangerous opponent, and her players took her game plan to heart. Grant played most of the second half with four fouls; her 36 minutes on the court for Tech turned out to be one of her least productive games ever despite hitting three of seven attempts form the field including Tech's first three-pointer. Grant managed one steal and five assists in the game, but had an uncharacteristic six turnovers against the Vols' relentless pressure. She finished the game with nine points, third-best among the Lady Raiders.

Tennessee's Shyra Ely had written "Homeward Bound" on her shoe before the game. Her 23 points to lead all scorers put her one step closer to her goal. She shot eight-for-11 from the floor, with an identical result at the charity stripe. In 38 minutes, she also racked up nine boards, two assists and a steal in the Vols' cause.

Texas Tech's Davis returned to the game in the second half and finished as the top scorer with 12 points. The Lady Raiders, who have suffered from cold streaks all year long, started the game under a layer of ice – their first eight attempts caromed off and they succeeded in sinking only nine buckets from the field in the first half. Free-throw shooting wasn't much better.

The bright spot in the ball game for Tech came from the bench -- freshmen Darrice Griffin, whose inside basket brought Tech back into shouting distance with just over nine minutes to go, and Judith Smith, who finished the game with 10 points, were ably assisted by Erin Myrick at center. Tech's backup center fouled out of the game, the only Lady Raider player to do so, in the late second half after a valiant effort to match physical intensity with Tennessee's inside bangers – during her 12 minutes she collected six rebounds and four points.

Griffin put in 22 minutes, relieving both Greenwalt and Davis as the need arose; she collared three rebounds and managed a block while producing only two fouls. Smith had the best bench score of the day, hitting three of nine from the field including one of five from three-point country; she corralled points three of the four times she shot from the charity stripe and stole the ball three times for Tech while dishing out a team-high half-dozen assists and collecting two boards.

Leading scorer Cisti Greenwalt, Tech's only senior, collected one foul in the first half and spent significant time on the bench in the second. She hit two of four lay-ups, one of three jumpers, and missed her only free throw in the ball game during her 21-minute appearance. Sophomore Alesha Robertson, who has been the team's second-highest scorer this season, hit the only lay-up she tried but missed eight of her ten field goal attempts including five of her six tries from three-point country. Both her free throws converted; she played 25 minutes for the Lady Raiders, as did Davis, who hit half her shots from the field, and an identical three of six from the charity stripe.

Griffin, called upon to shoot the free throws when Davis was injured, missed the front end of the one and one; she did not return to the line in the ball game, and hit only one of three attempts from point-blank. None of her jump shots converted; fortunately, teammate Chesley Dabbs managed to hit three of her 10 from the field, but even the trey Robertson nailed off Dabbs' pass with just over four minutes to go proved too little too late for the Lady Raiders. In 32 minutes, Dabbs hit three of five from the charity stripe and blocked one shot; she collared six rebounds.

In the last game of their season, Tech shot 32% from the field at 20 of 61, and hit 16 of 23 free throws. Lady Raider shooters hit three of a baker's dozen tries from three-point country for an uncharacteristically low 23 percent; as a team, they collared 31 boards and dished out 13 assists. Defensively, Tech blocked six shots and succeeded in stealing the ball eight times, but committed a baker's dozen turnovers and 18 fouls in the loss.

Backup point guard Brooke Baughman did not play, nor did backup forward Tawanna Flowers. The Lady Raiders' season ends at 24-8.

For Tennessee, Ely got help from Loree Moore, who shot three-for-eight from the field and three-for-three from the free throw line while grabbing 10 rebounds and Alexis Hornbuckle, who hit five of 11 from the field and three of four at the stripe. Tennessee's Shanna Zolman hit 40% from the floor and nothing at the free throw line, in contrast to teammate Brittany Jackson, who wasted all six attempts from the field including two from three-point country but did manage to hit two of her four charity shots. Tye'sha Fluker hit two of her four from the field. Nicky Anosike managed two of five from the floor while shooting a perfect seven from the charity stripe.

Dominique Redding hit one of four from the field for the Volunteers. Sybil Dosty hit her single field goal; Sidney Spencer missed her sole attempt at a trey but sank her only inside shot. Tennessee finished the game with 43% shooting as a team at 26-for-60 from the field, but managed 22 of 26 from the free-throw line. The Vols sank only one of their 10 attempts from three-point country but pulled down 41 rebounds. Volunteer players dished out 13 assists and blocked three shots, stealing the ball seven times in the game while giving up 12 turnovers and committing 19 fouls.


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