Vols take control

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For a moment, late in the first half, West Virginia's upstart women's basketball team had the nation's No. 1 team and defending national champion, Tennessee, reeling.

What had been a 12-point at 24-12, had been cut into by the Mountaineers, a spurt that led to eight straight ponts on four baskets in just under three minutes of play.

The scoreboard read Tennessee 24, WVU 20 and everything seemed to be starting to go West Virginia's way.

Never mind.

It seems that Tennesse is not No. 1 for nothing and there is a wide gulf between No. 1 and No. 16, which was WVU's ranking at game time. You know about Candace Parker and certainly she was domineering. And you probably know about Alexis Hornbuckle. If not, this was supposed to be her game, for she was coming back home to play in the arena in which she won four state championship at two high schools.

But you may not know as much about Angie Bjorklund, a freshman out of Spokane Valley, Wash.

Bjorklund's first half was undistiguished if you look at the numbers, which showed only 4 first-half points on 2 of 8 shooting.

But for just one brief moment the guard stood taller the tallest Volunteer.

With WVU knocking on the door, Bjorklund first hit at jumper at the 5:01mark, then turned in what may have been the play of the game.

Seeing an opening on the baseline, she drove toward the basket but was cut off and seemingly about to be surrounded. Without so much as wasted movement, she made a magnificent behind-the-back pass to Parker, who hit a layup.

The lead had swelled from four points to eight and Tennessee was off and running on a run that would stretch its advantage to 15 points before a late rally by the Mountaineers to crawl back to 37-24 at the half.

Tennessee did it with a pressure zone that forced WVU to speed up its game, resulting in seven turnovers, oddly one each by the seven players who played in the half. It also resulted in the Mountaineers hitting but one of eight 3-point shots, which is something of a strength of theirs.

But if there was any difference it was on the boasrds, where the Vols took down 28 rebounds -- 12 of them on offense to give them 13 second-chance points. WVU had but 16 rebounds.

Parker finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes while WVU's Olayinka Sanni had 11 points and four rebounds.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)