Women's basketball

Lady Vols rout Sooners 74-59, reach regional final

2013-03-31T17:53:00Z 2013-04-08T21:32:57Z Lady Vols rout Sooners 74-59, reach regional finalJEFF LATZKE AP Sports Writer nwitimes.com
March 31, 2013 5:53 pm  • 

OKLAHOMA CITY | Kamiko Williams scored 15 points, Cierre Burdick had 13 and second-seeded Tennessee routed Oklahoma 74-59 in the regional semifinals of the NCAA women's tournament on Sunday.

The Lady Vols (27-7) opened a 20-point lead in the first half and never let Oklahoma make a comeback, improving to 26-5 in regional semifinals.

Tennessee will face either top-ranked Baylor or No. 5 seed Louisville on Tuesday night in the round of eight. The Lady Vols have lost in the regional finals the past two seasons and haven't made it to the Final Four since winning the national title in 2008.

Tennessee also went through an Oklahoma City regional on its way to the championship that season, with Candace Parker leading the way.

Sharane Campbell scored 22 points and Joanna McFarland had 14 for No. 6 seed Oklahoma (24-11), which got an upset to make it to the round of 16, but couldn't capitalize on a friendly home environment in the Oklahoma City regional. McFarland also matched her career best with 16 rebounds.

The Lady Vols dissected Oklahoma's defense early on, getting easy baskets right under the hoop and putting together a 20-3 run to take control while keeping the Sooners' hometown crowd from getting involved.

Williams hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get the run going, and her second layup in the stretch pushed Tennessee's advantage to 36-16 with 4:54 to go before the half.

The Sooners were already down by 11 — having yielded eight straight points — when starting point guard Morgan Hook was tripped up by Meighan Simmons and hit her head on the way down.

She was helped to the bench by a trainer and sat out the rest of the game with concussion-like symptoms.

Oklahoma was already down to eight scholarship players after a series of four season-ending injuries, including team captain Whitney Hand's knee surgery. Two volleyball players were brought in at midseason for practice help.

There simply wasn't enough firepower to keep up with the deeper SEC regular-season champs, who got 12 points apiece from Izzy Harrison and Taber Spani and held the Sooners to 31 percent shooting.

Oklahoma made just 5 of 29 from 3-point range and got just six points from reserves, compared to 30 for the Lady Vols.

Even when the Sooners were able to force eight straight misses to start the second half, they couldn't dent Tennessee's lead.

Nicole Griffin and Aaryn Ellenberg each had baskets during the Lady Vols' 4½-minute dry spell, but that only got the deficit down to 44-31 before three straight makes pushed it right back up to 19.

The Sooners started the second half 3 for 21 from the field, with Tennessee's lead growing to 63-35.

Both teams' stars were limited, with Ellenberg missing 14 of her first 16 shots, including her first seven 3-point attempts.

She made a couple of baskets late to finish with 13 points, but had nowhere near the same impact as she did while averaging 24.5 points in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Simmons, Tennessee's leading scorer, was 1 for 15 and had just five points but got much more help.

The Lady Vols are getting healthy at the right time, with Harrison making her biggest contribution in two months.

She missed nine games in that span, including the SEC tournament, with injuries to both of her knees. Harrison also had eight rebounds and three blocks.

The postseason perennials were meeting for the first time in the NCAA tournament, despite the Lady Vols making 32 straight tourney appearances and Oklahoma 14.

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