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Tennessee gets Summitt's message, beats Rutgers

To say that Pat Summitt was ticked off when her Tennessee women's basketball team lost to Ball State in the first round of last season's NCAA Tournament would be an understatement.

"First, I made it clear that I did not find that acceptable,'' Summit said Sunday. "Then they ran Gate 10 at the football stadium, pushed grocery carts with 350 pounds of weight in them and had to do wheel-barrels the length of the floor.''

Judging from the way the No. 3-ranked Lady Vols surged past Rutgers, 68-54, in the second game of the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden, Camp Summitt is paying big dividends.

Tennessee (9-0) is basically playing with the same players who lost 11 games last season. They never trailed against unranked Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights trailed by five at halftime after putting together a 9-2 run. They pulled within 40-39 with 13:17 left. Tennessee, however, stepped up defensively, holding Rutgers scoreless for the next five minutes to take a 48-39 lead.

"We weren't ready to play in the first half, but we had a prayer meeting at halftime,'' Summitt said. "We had a good discussion and they responded to it.''

Shekinna Stricklen scored 19 points to lead Tennessee. Rutgers (7-5) was led by Brittany Ray's 29 points.

Said Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer: "There's only one person, maybe two, that deserve to be called a Scarlet Knight. Brittany brings it every time, she won't bring excuses. The long story is we need to grow up.''

Notes & quotes: This was the fourth Maggie Dixon Classic played in honor of the former Army coach, who died April 6, 2006, of arrhythmia, likely caused by an enlarged heart. In the first game, Baylor beat Boston College, 68-55.

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