February 29, 2004

No. 2 Tennessee 85, No. 15 LSU 62

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Earlier this season, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt couldn't imagine the No. 2 Lady Vols going undefeated in Southeastern Conference play.

``Particularly after (point guard) Loree (Moore) went down, I'm not sure that if I were a betting person I'd have bet on us. I might have bet against us,'' Summitt said after Tennessee finished the season with an 85-62 win over No. 15 LSU and a perfect record in the SEC.

``After knowing the personality of this group, there's no way I'd bet against this team for anything.''

Shyra Ely scored 25 points, LaToya Davis added 13 points and Shanna Zolman had 12 for Tennessee, which clinched its seventh straight regular season SEC title last weekend.

The Lady Vols (25-2, 14-0) had one last hurdle before posting an unblemished record in league play for the second year in a row.

The Lady Tigers (22-6, 10-4), who beat Tennessee in last year's SEC title game, didn't provide much of a challenge.

The Lady Vols led from the start after scoring the game's first seven points and stayed ahead because of a strong post game.

``When we recognized the fact that we had the dominant inside game and got the ball inside that was key,'' Summitt said.

LSU got as close as 35-29 after its first basket of the second half but it couldn't stop Tennessee's runs.

The Lady Vols responded with an 8-2 spurt that included a three-point play by Davis, and back-to-back baskets by Ely.

LSU cut the deficit to 10 midway through the second half, but Tennessee's Tasha Butts hit a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run. After Doneeka Hodges made two consecutive 3-pointers for LSU, Tennessee countered with an 8-0 run.

``They brought energy. They brought excitement. They brought execution. I think the result you'll find in the final score,'' LSU assistant coach Pokey Chatman said. She is filling in as head coach while Sue Gunter recovers from an illness.

Hodges led the Lady Tigers with 18 points while Temeka Johnson had 16, Seimone Augustus 12 and Scholanda Hoston 11. Johnson also had 11 assists.

Before the game, Tennessee recognized its seniors. Butts, Davis and Ashley Robinson finished their careers 55-1 in SEC regular season games.

The Lady Vols' last regular season loss was at Vanderbilt in Feb. 2002, a span of 34 games. Tennessee extended its SEC home win streak to 54.

``To win big against LSU, it does a lot for our team,'' Butts said. ``It took every player we had.''

The Lady Vols led by as many as 13 in the first half as the Lady Tigers shot just 31 percent (11-of-35) from the field. LSU finished the game 24-of-66 from the floor.

Tennessee also had a 44-25 rebound edge, and shot 56 percent from the field to keep LSU winless in Knoxville.

Robinson had 10 rebounds for the Lady Vols.

Another Tennessee senior, Courtney McDaniel, was not recognized Sunday. The team announced before the game she quit the team due to unspecified medical reasons.

Brittany Jackson, who had missed Tennessee's last three games because of a sprained ligament in her left knee, played nine minutes Sunday and made a 3-pointer. She is helping fill in for Moore, who tore a left knee ligament in January.

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