KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jordan Horston scored 21 points and Rickea Jackson added 18 as the fourth-seeded Tennessee Lady Vols remained perfect when opening the NCAA Tournament on their home court, routing No. 13 seed Saint Louis 95-50 on Saturday.
The Lady Vols (24-11) improved to 25-0 in first-round games on their home court to reach Monday night’s second-round where they will play either No. 5 seed Iowa State or 12th-seeded Toledo. Tennessee improved to 6-2 all-time as a No. 4 seed.
Jordan Walker added 11 points and Tess Darby had 10 for the Lady Vols. They will try to advance to a second straight Sweet 16 in the Seattle 3 region.
The first NCAA Tournament appearance ended quickly for Saint Louis (17-18). The Billikens snapped the six-game winning streak that helped them win the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament after starting the season 6-16.
Brooke Flowers led Saint Louis with 17 points, and Kyla McMakin, who followed coach Rebecca Tillett from Longwood as a transfer, added 11. Camree Clegg added 12 off the bench.
The Billikens led twice in the first couple minutes, the last on a McMakin jumper at 4-3. Walker tied it at 4 with a free throw, then finished a fast break with a layup putting the Lady Vols ahead to stay with 6:51 left. Darby added a 3, and Horston’s jumper capped an eight-point spurt for Tennessee.
PHOTOS: Lady Vols rout March Madness newcomer Saint Louis 95-50
The Lady Vols led by as much as 10 before McMakin bankd in a buzzer-beating 3 that pulled Saint Louis within 20-15 at end of the first quarter. Flowers hit two free throws to pull Saint Louis within 20-17 to start the second quarter.
Then Tennessee seized control and scored the final 21 points for a 48-24 lead at halftime. The Lady Vols scored the first eight of the third and led 67-41 at the end of the quarter. They polished off the big win outscoring Saint Louis 28-9 in the fourth with coach Kellie Harper pulling her starters with 6:24 left.
Saint Louis: The Billikens’ future seems bright with Tillett picking up where she left off after leading Longwood to the NCAA Tournament a year ago from the Big South. She joined Lisa Bluder (Drake and Iowa) as the only Division I coaches to lead teams in different conferences to tournament titles in consecutive years. This loss was just their second in the final 13 games for a program that last won 11 of 12 in the 1978-79 season. Not bad for a program picked to finish 12th in the A-10.
Tennessee: The program that has appeared in all 41 NCAA Tournaments improved to 32-2 in the first round. The Lady Vols used their height advantage for a 54-22 scoring edge in the paint. They also took care of the ball with only 10 turnovers and turned the Billikens’ 20 turnovers into 30 points.
Tennessee played 15 teams in this NCAA Tournament field. The Lady Vols played neither Iowa State nor Toledo. Iowa State, ranked 17th, had its own argument to host opening games. The 24th-ranked Lady Vols got the edge thanks playing the nation’s toughest schedule.
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