Vicki Baugh led the Lady Vols to a blowout win on Sunday in just her second game back from a knee injury. The sophomore forward was dominant on both ends of the court finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks as Tennessee defeated Louisiana Tech 94-59.
Baugh seemed to make a big difference for Tennessee since returning from surgery to repair a torn ACL which she suffered in the national championship game last season.
"Her presence has been tremendous, and it has been a good example for all our players," coach Pat Summitt said about Baugh.
Baugh was most effective on defense and held Louisiana Tech's leading scorer Shanavia Dowdell to just four points.
"Vicki has great quickness, and just her being on the floor, I think she makes the offense second guess whether or not to shoot," Summitt said. "It's made our post defense so much better and so much quicker."
Louisiana Tech head coach Chris Long was impressed with Baugh's play.
"She's just a difficult matchup for most teams, particularly our team," Long said. "She's just going to get better as she gets healthier and healthier. She's going to be a force."
Baugh put on a great performance even though she was limited to 17 minutes because of her recovering knee. Freshman forwards Amber Gray and Alyssia Brewer picked up where Baugh left off.
"Never in my career did I ever ask a coach to remove me from a game." Head coach Pat Summitt
Gray and Brewer each had 16 points and combined to grab 19 rebounds. They forced Louisiana Tech into foul trouble as the top two Lady Techster forwards, Adrienne Johnson and Dowdell, fouled out midway through the second half.
Tech guard Tiawana Pringle also fouled out.
Freshman guard and Knoxville native Glory Johnson contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Guard Whitney Jones stepped up for Louisiana Tech in the absence of the star forwards and finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, and three steals.
Louisiana Tech was able to keep the game close early as they trailed by seven at halftime. However, the Lady Vols opened the second half with a 7-0 run and had a sizeable 22-point lead when the first Tech player fouled out.
Fouls and turnovers were big problems for the Lady Techsters throughout the game. Tennessee capitalized on these mistakes, making 26-of-37 free throws (70.3%) and scoring 34 points off of Tech's 28 turnovers.
Long wasn't happy with the turnovers committed by his team.
"It wasn't so much steals as it was us being careless with the basketball," Long said. "I was disappointed because we've taken care of the basketball well this year."
Summitt felt that her team improved but acknowledged that they still have work to do. "It was really good progress today," Summitt said. "We haven't arrived, but at the same time we took a step forward, and hopefully we'll be a better team because of it."
Some players are still getting used to the grind of the college game, and Summitt and her coaching staff had to push them to get to the finish today. This gave Summitt an opportunity to teach her players a lesson.
"A lot of the freshmen wanted to come out, and I just looked down the bench and said to my players, 'Never in my career did I ever ask a coach to remove me from a game, '"Summitt said.
"We have some that gave in to fatigue, but we made them play through it today. So that was a good thing."
The Lady Vols' next game will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday against the Western Carolina Lady Catamounts at Thompson-Boling Arena. It will be Tennessee's third game in five days.
"We have to be mentally tough enough to turn around and watch tape tomorrow and then go on the floor and do our preparation for Western Carolina," Summitt said.