NEW YORK -- Pat Summitt has said all season she wants the focus on her team and not her.
Yet at home or on the road, it seems a lot of people are rooting for the Hall of Fame coach and Tennessee this season since she announced in August she had been diagnosed with early onset Alzhemier's
"We've received so much support from other teams and fans," said Glory Johnson who scored 16 points to lead the Lady Vols (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) to an 84-61 win over DePaul (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) in the Maggie Dixon Classic on Sunday. "When you see that it gives us energy and motivates our team. We're playing for coach and everyone with this disease."
Summitt was honored during No. 1 Baylor's 73-59 victory over St. John's with the Maggie Dixon Courage award. Both the Lady Bears and Red Storm came out of their timeouts to applaud the winningest coach in college basketball.
"I think when you see the impact Pat's had and when you go out and see fans wearing 'We back Pat' shirts. I was real excited that Pat got the award," associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "We all know what Maggie stood for. Pat has a tremendous following and always will. She's preached to our kids being a woman first and being self-sufficient."
The Lady Vols were so happy they got to see their coach receive the award.
"It means a lot that we did get to see it," preseason All-America Shekinna Stricklen said. "We saw Kim (Mulkey) give her a hug, Brittney (Griner) give her a hug. All these people respect Pat. Pat has done a lot and people truly respect her and love her. We go out every day and play our best and show how much we care for her and love her."
Stricklen finished with 12 points while Alicia Manning had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Vols (5-2), who saw their 12-point halftime lead cut to 43-39 before using a 13-4 run to take control. Stricklen had six points during the burst.
Her layup made it 56-43 with 11:19 left and DePaul (8-2) couldn't get within single digits the rest of the way.
Jasmine Penny scored 16 points and Keisha Hampton added 14 for DePaul.
"Keisha Hampton is a special basketball player," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "You saw some snippets of it in the beginning of the second half."
Bruno wasn't thrilled that his team had some lapses against the Lady Vols, but he refused to use the excuse that his team was playing its third game in five days.
"Our basketball team played hard, but there were some moments when we didn't compete," Bruno said. "Losing is something that will happen and can happen and is going to happen."
It was the second time Tennessee played in the Classic named for the former Army women's coach.
The 28-year-old Dixon died April 6, 2006, of arrhythmia, probably caused by an enlarged heart. Her death came three weeks after she finished her first season as Army coach. She won the admiration of the academy and all of college basketball for leading Army to its first NCAA berth, where the Cadets lost in the first round to Summitt's Lady Vols.
While this was DePaul's first appearance in the Classic, the school has played in the Maggie Dixon Surf'N Slam Classic in San Diego. The Blue Demons have also hosted a tournament in honor of the coach the past few seasons. She got her start as an assistant coach at DePaul under Bruno before she went to Army.
Both Tennessee and DePaul will stay in the Tri-State area after the game. On Tuesday night, the Lady Vols play at No. 11 Rutgers while DePaul visits Princeton.
"This is our first win off the road and something we needed," Stricklen said. "We know we have three more to go before Christmas and we're trying to do a clean sweep."
After Rutgers, Tennessee will head to the West Coast to play UCLA and No. 4 Stanford.
Tennessee was playing its first game without freshman point guard Ariel Massengale. She had started every game averaging 7.2 points and 5.8 assists.
She injured a finger on her left hand while diving for a loose ball at the end of practice on Thursday and will be sidelined for a few weeks.