Meighan Simmons scores 28 as Tennessee drops Lamar

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Meighan Simmons opened the game with consecutive 3-pointers. When the final buzzer sounded, the freshman had broken Tennessee's single-game record for 3s, most recently set by teammate Angie Bjorklund.

Simmons, making her first career start at point guard, scored 28 points and sank her eighth and final 3 with 2:03 left as the Lady Volunteers (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) beat Lamar 99-55 on Wednesday night. She surpassed the previous record of seven, most recently set by Bjorklund against Arkansas on Jan. 24, 2008.

"I think we'll have a little competition now to see if Angie can get Meighan a little fired up and pass her back," coach Pat Summitt joked after the game. "[Simmons] is so light on her feet, so aggressive offensively and defensively. That just speaks volumes to have a freshman do that. She just loves the game of basketball. I think she really inspired everyone else."

Simmons has scored in double-digits in every game this season, and her shooting helped Tennessee overcome a sloppy start wrought with the kind of turnovers that plagued it in a 69-58 loss to No. 12 Georgetown on Saturday in the Paradise Jam, the Lady Vols' first loss of the season. They committed 29 turnovers in that game and had 10 in the first half against Lamar.

But the Lady Cardinals couldn't convert them into points, and Tennessee (7-1) jumped out to a 12-0 lead. Lamar, a team that returned three starters from last year's squad that reached the NCAA tournament, missed its first nine shots before Monique Whittaker hit a layup with 15:12 left in the half.

Lamar had problems hanging onto the ball, committing 29 turnovers that led to 33 points for Tennessee, which also got 26 second-chance points by outrebounding the Lady Cardinals 54-40.

"We are not a bad rebounding team, but I had people standing under the basket instead of pushing and fighting and clawing," Lamar coach Larry Tidwell said. "In our five-game winning streak we outrebounded everybody."

The Lady Vols' early points came mostly from the perimeter and mostly from Simmons, who had 17 points by halftime on 6-of-10 shooting and five 3s. The Lady Cardinals (5-2) couldn't keep up, and Tennessee took a 49-27 lead into halftime.

"[Simmons] is one of the most confident players I've played with, and I have complete respect for her on the court," Bjorklund said. "When she's hitting like that, it opens up a lot for everyone else."

After the break, Simmons cooled off a bit, giving her teammates a chance to light up the scoreboard. Shekinna Stricklen fought her way into the paint, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Kamiko Williams had 13 points, and Glory Johnson had 12 rebounds.

Bjorklund, who came off the bench, took over in the backcourt with 15 points and set a record of her own. Her nine attempts from 3-point range gave her 633 career tries, breaking Shanna Zolman's previous record of 626. She needs 13 3-pointers to tie Zolman's career record of 266.

Tennessee pulled away in the second half and led by as many as 45 with 2:10 left as Lamar shot 30.6 percent. Ang Green led the Lady Cardinals with 15 points.

"I wouldn't say we were nervous, but maybe a little anxious," Whittaker said. "We just wanted to do our best. We really couldn't control what they were doing, but we have to make sure we play within ourselves."