No. 2 Tennessee 92, Florida 80
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) _ Tamika Catchings scored a career-high 38 points and Chamique Holdsclaw added 19 as No. 2 Tennessee rebounded from its second loss this season by routing Florida 92-80 Friday in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Tennessee (26-2) will play the winner of No. 23 Auburn and 24th-ranked Alabama in Saturday’s semifinals.
Coach Pat Summitt had wondered how her Lady Vols would react after losing at LSU last weekend in their regular-season finale. It was their first SEC loss since 1997 and cost them their No. 1 ranking.
Summitt was not in suspense for long.
Catchings and Holdsclaw scored the first five points, and the Lady Vols were on their way against eighth-seeded Florida (19-13). The two combined with Semeka Randall to score Tennessee’s first 31 points.
Florida had problems shooting early but pulled within 20-19 on a jumper by Tamara Stocks with 10:18 to go. But the Lady Gators, who lost by only 13 when Tennessee visited Gainesville last month, didn’t score again for the next five minutes.
Holdsclaw and Catchings scored the next 11 points, and Florida never got within single digits again as Catchings finished the half scoring 24 and Holdsclaw 17.
Catchings, whose previous career-high was 35 points against DePaul in January 1998, finished 13-of-18 from the floor and 10-of-14 the foul line before being rested with 11 minutes left.
Tennessee led 49-31 at halftime and by as much 33 midway through the half.
Michelle Snow added 10 points for the Lady Vols.
Tamara Stocks led Florida with 22 points, Brandi McCain added 12, Tonya Washington had 11, and Talatha Bingham 10.