TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Ashley Robinson had a big game at the
right time for Tennessee.
Robinson had 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in 22
minutes, helping the top-seeded Lady Vols begin their quest for a
seventh national title with an easy 77-54 victory over Colgate in
the opening round of the NCAA tournament Saturday.
"When she plays at that level, we are a team that can go to
another level," coach Pat Summitt said. "This is an athlete we
are going to continue to see."
Robinson bounced back from a disappointing effort in the SEC
tournament semifinals against Georgia two weeks ago, when she
scored only two points in a 68-66 overtime loss.
With the 6-foot-5 Robinson leading the way, the Lady Vols (27-3)
used their height advantage and depth to build a 46-24 halftime
lead. Tennessee advanced to play DePaul -- an 83-46 winner over
George Washington -- on Monday in the Midwest Regional.
"We knew we were outmatched, undersized," Colgate coach Beth
Combs said. "But we had to stick to what we knew our players were
confident in. We did what's worked for us all year."
Robinson scored 11 first-half points and forced Colgate's
shooters to change their shots.
"I just wanted to play well on the offensive end today because
I usually do a pretty good job on the defensive end," she said.
"I feel like the last few games I haven't played up to my
Tyesha Fluker and Sidney Spencer each added 12 points and Shanna
Zolman 11 for the Lady Vols, who shot 48.6 percent for the game.
Tennessee has been in the NCAA tournament every year since it
began in 1982. Though the Lady Vols have won a record six national
titles, they are going for their first one since 1998.
Against Colgate, it never really was a contest. Tennessee opened
a 29-14 lead 10 minutes into the game and took a 22-point halftime
lead after shooting 55.6 percent in the first half. Meanwhile, the
16th-seeded Raiders (21-10) shot 20.6 percent after making just
seven of 34 shots.
"We didn't shoot well, which had a lot to do with the
tremendous defense of Tennessee," Combs said.
Colgate, which earned an automatic bid out of the Patriot
League, ended the game shooting 25.7 percent and had 12 of its
shots blocked. Milaina Lagzdins led the Raiders with 13 points and
Malissa Burke added 10.
"Coach just told us to keep going at it stronger and
stronger," Colgate's Emily Braseth said. "If they block it, just
take it up stronger. We knew what we had to do."
Tennessee twice led by as many as 28 in the second half.
The NCAA tournament committee picked Tennessee as the top
overall team despite losses to Connecticut and Texas at home and in
the semifinals of the SEC tournament. But they were sent on the
road for the first time for a first-round NCAA game.
That did not matter to the Lady Vols or their orange-clad fans,
who dominated an otherwise sparce crowd of 2,287 in Florida State's
12,000-seat home arena.
Summitt said being on the road made her team even more committed
to playing well.
"They were on top of it," Summitt said. "That just speaks to
their focus. They knew it was the postseason."