KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Lady Volunteers know many people expect little from them in this year's NCAA tournament. They're still planning on making a run at the national championship that has eluded them.
Led by its senior class, 13th-ranked Tennessee blew confidently through the Southeastern Conference tournament and got a 70-58 win against LSU on Sunday in the championship game.
"We want to show people we haven't stopped working," tournament MVP Glory Johnson said. "You should see a whole new mentality when we get out there. We have a whole new mindset. You should see it in our faces every time we step on the floor."
Johnson is one of five seniors who are trying to change their legacy after several early exits from the NCAA tournament and a disappointing 2011-12 season by the Lady Vols' lofty standards. Tennessee (24-8), which won the last of its eight national championships in 2008, suffered a program-worst three losses at home this season and got blown out in several road games.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Johnson, Shekinna Stricklen and the rest of the seniors pulled together during the SEC tournament, leading the team in each game en route to Tennessee's 16th conference tournament title. Johnson had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Stricklen added 16 points and senior Vicki Baugh added 10 points against LSU.
No. 18 St. John's 68, No. 20 Louisville 61 (OT): Shenneika Smith scored 24 points and No. 18 St. John's beat No. 20 Louisville 68-61 in overtime Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
Nadirah McKenith added 15 points for the Red Storm (22-8), which held Louisville to two free throws and a late 3-pointer by Shoni Schimmel in the extra period.
Schimmel had 11 of her 16 points in the first half for Louisville (22-9), and Antonita Slaughter also scored 16 for the Cardinals.
St. John's led as many as nine in the second half, before Louisville rallied to send the game to overtime tied at 56.
St. John's has won nine straight and ended UConn's 99-game home winning streak on Feb. 18.
No. 3 Notre Dame 69, DePaul 54: Devereaux Peters had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead No. 3 Notre Dame to a 69-54 win over DePaul in the Big East quarterfinals Sunday.
Natalie Novosel also had 16 points and Kayla McBride added 14 for the Irish (29-2) who are coming off the program's first outright regular-season conference championship.
Katherine Harry had 10 of her 14 points in the first half for eighth-seeded DePaul (22-10).
Notre Dame will face West Virginia in Monday's semifinal. The Mountaineers beat No. 12 Georgetown 39-32 in Sunday's first quarterfinal.
West Virginia handed the Irish their only conference loss this season, 65-63 in South Bend on Feb. 12.
Notre Dame took control of the game with a 14-0 run that began in the first half and ended three minutes into the second with a three-pointer from Lexington Catholic graduate Novosel that gave the Irish a 48-26 lead.
The Blue Demons fought back, cutting the lead to 11 on a jumper by Jasmine Penny with 7:30 left in the game.
Middle Tennessee 65, Western Kentucky 57: Middle Tennessee held a double-digit lead for much of the contest, but a late Western Kentucky rally forced the Blue Raiders to convert their free throws down the stretch and hold on for a victory over the Lady Toppers in Sun Belt Tournament Quarterfinal action from the Summit Arena in Hot Springs, Ark.
Junior Kortni Jones, an All-Sun Belt First Team honoree, led all players with 25 points, including three three-pointers.
Leading the Lady Toppers was Jasmine Johnson with a double-double effort of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Alexis Govan chipped in 10 points and eight boards, while Danay Fothergill came off the bench providing a late spark with her team-best 18 points, all on three-pointers. Her five second-half treys kept WKU within reach after it struggled to knock down only 28.0 percent of its field goals during the opening 20 minutes.
NKU gets at-large berth
The Northern Kentucky women's basketball team received an at-large berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament, and the fourth-seeded Norse will meet No. 5 seed Quincy in the Midwest Regional on Friday night.
NKU enters the NCAA Tournament with a 21-6 overall record, while Quincy is 21-7. Ashland (28-1) is the top seed and host for the Midwest Regional, which will be held in Kates Gymnasium.
It will be NKU's 21st trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Norse won national championships in 2000 and 2008.
This marks the final season in Division II for NKU, which begins reclassifying to NCAA Division I status in 2012-13. The Norse will compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference next season.
Southern Indiana 60, Northern Kentucky 56: Southern Indiana awoke from a first-half slumber, connected on 59.3 percent of its shots during the final 20 minutes and went on to defeat the Norse in the GLVC Tournament championship game. Isaac McClure scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the 13th-ranked Screaming Eagles.
The Screaming Eagles shot 20.8 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 27-17 at the break. Lawrence Thomas scored all 16 of his points in the second half to key the Southern Indiana comeback.
Jon Van Hoose scored 18 points to lead NKU. The Norse committed 17 turnovers, 12 of those in the second half when Southern Indiana made its comeback.