If defense and rebounding win championships, Tennessee is a contender in the fullest sense of the word.
The game wasn't pretty on offense for either team, with both squads suffering through scoring droughts. But even during a five minute stretch in the second half where Tennessee managed only two free throws, DePaul was unable to gain any ground on Tennessee. If the defense wasn't keeping DePaul from finding a shot in the first place, Glory Johnson was there to clean up any rebounds. And we can't emphasize "any" enough.
Glory finished the game with 21 rebounds. The leading scorer for either team (Anna Martin of DePaul) has 20 points.
Cherry-picking stats is an easy way of spinning the wrong story on a game, but it's pretty hard to argue with those results. Tennessee outrebounded DePaul 48 to 30, and Tennessee outshot DePaul by the modest margin of 37% to 31%. Additionally, Tennessee avoided using fouls to defend shots and only allowed DePaul five total free throw attempts (which they made).
It wasn't all perfect for Tennessee; the offense seemed hesitant at times, which was in part a function of DePaul playing tough defense themselves. But unlike the one-on-one offense of the Tennessee-Martin game, the Lady Vols depended more on passing and creating shots for other players. It wasn't pretty and there was definite room for improvement, but it was enough to allow Tennessee to rely on an absolutely withering defense and Glory Johnson's best rebounding night of her career.
A few notes:
- Glory's boards were split evenly: 11 in the first half and 10 in the second, giving her a rebounding double-double by half.
- Meighan Simmons had 12 points in the first half to pace UT's 28 points in that stretch. Shekinna Stricklen was UT's high scorer, though, with 17 points. Vicki Baugh was second with 16.
- No Lady Vol had more than 2 fouls.
- DePaul took 5 free throws, but Tennessee took 18 and sunk 15 of them.
- Tennessee nabbed 17 O-boards on 38 missed shots - a 45% Oreb%.
Breadsticks - as if it wasn't obvious. Even if we wanted to give them to somebody else, Glory Johnson would just snag them out of midair.
SWEET MOTHER OF BREADSTICKS, GLORY!