Lady Vols cruise past Carson-Newman in first exhibition

KNOXVILLE ( -- No. 4 Tennessee began a new women's basketball season on Tuesday night, but a 110-66 exhibition victory over Carson-Newman in Thompson-Boling Arena couldn't silence coach Pat Summitt's usual refrain.

That's defense and rebounding.

"Obviously, we did some really good things," Summitt said. "I guess the one thing that stood out to me in the seven years we have played Carson-Newman, we gave up more points tonight. Why? Because we weren't passionate all the time about playing great defense. I don't know many teams that are going to win championships if they're not passionate about defense and rebounding."

The final score certainly wound up in Tennessee's favor, and the Lady Vols never trailed. Tennessee shot 54 percent from the field, including a 61-percent mark from both the field and from 3-point range in the first half.

"We were hitting offensively," said junior Glory Johnson, who scored a game-high 26 points. "We started struggling with our defense. That's what happens when we still have things to work on. Now we have our defense and our offense to work on."

Exhibition games are all about finding places to improve. And the Lady Vols were without three post players still nursing injuries - Alyssia Brewer, Kelley Cain and Vicki Baugh.

That certainly altered UT's front line, but even without those three (and senior Angie Bjorklund and freshman Lauren Avant) on the court, they still managed to outrebound the Lady Eagles 45-28.

Freshman Meighan Simmons scored 11 points and led the team with five assists in her first game as a Lady Vol.

"I was pretty excited about today," Simmons said. "Just being out there for the first time today, it's a blessing. It's just a dream come true."

Four other Lady Vols scored in double figures Tuesday night as well.

Taber Spani hit four of her six 3-point attempts and finished with 22 points, while Shekinna Stricklen was 4-for-5 beyond the 3-point line and had 15 points.

Forward Alicia Manning didn't have much trouble on the boards, grabbing 13 rebounds and scoring 15 points. Sydney Smallbone also reached double figures, scoring 10 points in 21 minutes.

Tennessee has one more exhibition game left on Sunday against Union at 3 p.m. before beginning the regular season with a trip to Louisville on Nov. 12. That game, like Tuesday night's, should give the Lady Vols plenty to learn from - good and bad.

"This is why we have the exhibition games," Summitt said. "It's a great learning tool. That's the first thing we'll do when we go back to practice. We'll watch tape and do a really good evaluation of why we did what we did and how we can get better."

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