Updated at: 11/25/2012 2:35 PM
By STEVE MEGARGEE
(AP) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Meighan Simmons scored 12 points and five of her teammates also reached double figures Sunday as No. 20 Tennessee defeated Alcorn State 90-37 in Lady Braves coach Tonya Edwards’ return to her alma mater.
Edwards played on Tennessee’s first two national championship teams in 1987 and 1989. She was named the most outstanding player of the 1987 Final Four. The Alcorn State coach received a loud ovation from the Thompson-Boling Arena crowd during pregame introductions.
Tennessee has won four straight games since opening the season with an 80-71 loss at Chattanooga in Warlick’s head coaching debut.
Bashaara Graves, Isabelle Harrison, Jasmine Jones, Nia Moore and Taber Spani scored 10 points each for Tennessee (4-1). Tierro Frost scored a team-high nine points for Alcorn State (0-4).
Tennessee never trailed and put the game out of reach by going on a 17-0 run that started in the final minute of the first half and lasted through the first four minutes of the second half.
The Lady Volunteers showed they still have plenty of room for improvement as they get ready to host Middle Tennessee on Wednesday and No. 25 North Carolina next Sunday.
Tennessee committed 19 turnovers and only outrebounded the winless Lady Braves 38-35 after heading into the game with a plus-9 rebound margin.
But the Lady Volunteers also shot 55.7 percent, including 61.8 percent in the second half. The performances of Spani and Jones provide particular reason for optimism.
Spani, one of two seniors on the Lady Volunteers’ roster, entered the season with 57 career starts to rank second on the team. But she fell out of the starting lineup after struggling against Chattanooga and had averaged just 4.8 points and 19.5 minutes through the Lady Volunteers’ first four games.
She showed signs of turning the corner last week by shooting 3-of-5 and scoring nine points in a 79-67 victory at Miami. Spani continued her progress Sunday by shooting 4-of-5 and scoring 10 points, even though she didn’t take a single shot in the second half. She reached double figures for the first time since a 14-point performance in an 85-64 rout of UCLA on Dec. 17.
Spani made 15 starts for the Lady Vols last season and averaged 12.2 points through her first nine games that year before a knee injury limited her effectiveness the rest of the way.
Jones, a promising 6-foot-2 freshman forward, bounced back in a big way Sunday after picking up four fouls in only three scoreless minutes against Miami. Jones reached double figures for the first time in her young career and also pulled down seven rebounds.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)