No. 4 Tennessee blows out Toledo to reach 2nd straight Sweet 16
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Reserves Sara Puckett and Jillian Hollingshead led five Lady Vols in double figures with 13 points apiece as fourth-seeded Tennessee routed No. 12 seed Toledo 94-47 Monday night to advance to their second straight Sweet 16 in the Seattle 3 Regional.
This is the first time since 2015 and 2016 that Tennessee (25-11) has reached consecutive Sweet 16s and the first in coach Kellie Harper's fourth season. The Lady Vols now have reached the Sweet 16 for the 36th time as the only program to play in all 41 NCAA Tournaments.
Puckett was 5-of-7, making all three of her 3s. Rickea Jackson and Jasmine Powell each added 12, and Jordan Horston had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Toledo (29-5) snapped a program record 17-game winning streak and missed out on its first Sweet 16. The Rockets lost for the first time since Jan. 18 at Bowling Green, which was avenged in the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship for their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2017.
Quinesha Lockett led Toledo with 19 points.
Tennessee looked much more like the program that used to roll through early tournament games, never trailing as they improved to 30-3 all-time in the second round and 24-1 on the court named for the late Pat Summitt.
The Lady Vols, who won at least 25 games for a 38th season, scored the first three points. Toledo got within 5-4 on a Lockett layup. Then Tennessee took control even as the Lady Vols struggled to find the basket early. They led 19-8 after the first quarter.
Karoline Striplin knocked down a pair of 3s within the first 50 seconds of the second, and Tennessee hit 6-of-8 beyond the arc in the quarter. The last came from Puckett with 41.7 seconds remaining for their biggest lead yet at 50-21 before going into halftime up 50-22.
Toledo tried to rally in the third with a 12-2 run capped by Garcia's 3 with 3:57 to go. That only trimmed the lead to 60-36, and the Lady Vols led 72-40 going into the fourth. They finished it off outscoring Toledo 22-7 in the fourth, not allowing the Rockets to score even a single bucket over the final 6:11.
Toledo: The Rockets head home still looking for the program's first Sweet 16 berth. They are 4-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, Coach Tricia Cullop could have her leading scorer back if Lockett returns for next season and joins the four juniors, including starters Khera Goss, Sammi Mikonowicz and Jessica Cook. ... The Rockets had hoped to use their speed to counter Tennessee's height but were outscored 17-4 on the fast break.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols have locked down on defense in the first two games. They held Saint Louis to 50 points in the first round, the fewest they had allowed in this tournament since giving up 46 to Northwestern State on March 22, 2014. Then nearly matched that tournament low in this game as they dominated across the court.
The Lady Vols get a rematch in the Sweet 16. They lost 59-56 on Dec. 4 to then-No. 9 Virginia Tech as part of the Jimmy V Women's Classic in Knoxville without forward Rickea Jackson. That also was center Tamari Key's last game before blood clots ended her season.
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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