Tennessee rolls past Austin Peay 80-38
Updated: Saturday March 17, 2001 4:30 AM
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Lady Vols won yet another NCAA tournament game on their home floor.
Ashley Robinson scored 17 points as top-seeded Tennessee beat Austin Peay 80-38 Friday night in the first round of the Mideast Regional for the Lady Vols' 37th consecutive tournament victory on their own court.
'"It's good to get that first game behind us,'" Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.
The Lady Vols gave Summitt her 12th 30-win season, improving to 30-2. They will play ninth-seeded St. Mary's of California, which beat Texas 68-64, in the second round Sunday night.
Tennessee has won eight straight first-round games by at least 37 points each, but it struggled a bit early against 16th-seeded Austin Peay (17-14).
The Lady Vols missed a handful of easy layups and hit just seven of their first 23 shots against the school where Summitt used to play pickup games and cheer on her brother.
'"We were a little overanxious at times and missed a lot of easy shots early, yet we were very persistent going inside,'" Summitt said.
The Lady Vols, much taller across the board (even point guard Kara Lawson stood six inches taller than Austin Peay's 5-foot-3 Kelly Chavez), outscored the Lady Governors 44-18 inside and outrebounded them 59-34.
Brooke Armistead, the nation's seventh-leading scorer averaging 22.2 points, kept Austin Peay close by scoring 16 of her 20 points in the first half.
'"I expected them to be good,'" Armistead said. '"I knew they were good athletes and bigger and faster and taller than us. They all play well. There's not a weak player on that team. That's the difference. I didn't expect for every one of them to be as good.'"
Paige Smith's 3-pointer at 7:28 pulled the Lady Governors to 19-14, but that was as close as they would get.
Tennessee used an 11-3 spurt, capped by Kristen Clement's spinaround layup with 3:33 to go, to open up a 30-17 lead.
The Lady Vols led 38-21 at halftime and padded that margin by starting the second half with a 21-4 run highlighted by back-to-back 3s by Lawson, who has hit more 3s in two seasons than any other player in Tennessee history.
The Lady Vols couldn't shake their shooting woes completely, hitting just two of their first six shots. But they led by as many as 44 points twice against an in-state team they have never lost to in five games.
Lawson and Gwen Jackson each had 14 points for Tennessee.
The Lady Governors, making only their second appearance in the NCAA tournament, had their worst game of the season. They hit just six shots from the floor in the second half and shot 22.8 percent (13-of-57) for the game.
Austin Peay's Susie Gardner, in her first NCAA tournament as a head coach, didn't have much to smile about.
'"We scored the first basket. Whew, [that's] what I was worried
about,'" she said.