LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Now, No. 8 North Carolina State knows what it's like to be on the bad end of a defensive throttling.
Kara Lawson had 15 of her 20 points in the first half, and Tennessee's defense sparked an early charge Sunday, leading the No. 2 Volunteers to a 93-56 victory over the Wolfpack.
The game opened the Elite 4 Holiday Classic doubleheader, held at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
NC State (6-1) entered the game as one of the nation's better defensive squads, allowing its opponents an average of just 52 points on 33 percent shooting.
But it was Tennessee that brought its defense, forcing NC State to shoot 32 percent and turn the ball over 28 times, 17 in the second half.
"We just stopped thinking in every way," Wolfpack coach Kay Yow said, "I personally take the blame for this type of loss, because I feel like I don't have the team prepared as well as it should be prepared."
The Wolfpack were led by Carisse Moody's 18 points and nine rebounds. Amy Simpson added 12 points.
"I think that defense creates offense," said Volunteers forward Gwen Jackson, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds. "Once we started picking it up on the defensive end, it started turning into easy points on offense."
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt credited her seldom-used zone defense for the smothering of the Wolfpack.
"We've been 95- to 99-percent man-to-man," Summitt said. "But, whatever works. Right now, our zone's been good to us."
The Volunteers outscored NC State by 18 points over the half's last 12 minutes for a 36-21 lead at the break. The Wolfpack were held scoreless for a 7:32 span and missed their last 13 shots of the half.
Lawson's 3-pointer with 8:06 remaining in the half tied the score at 19, and her long jumper at the buzzer capped off Tennessee's 22-4 run. Lawson finished with four 3-pointers in five attempts.
NC State fell behind 42-23 early in the second half, but rallied to cut the deficit to 11 points. Simpson's steal and breakaway layup brought the Wolfpack within 44-33 at the 15:39 mark.
Tennessee, however, put NC State away with seven unanswered points in a 30-second span. April McDivitt's 3-point play gave the Volunteers an 18-point lead with 14:13 remaining.
Tennessee cut loose after that, outscoring NC State 42-23 until the game's end. The team shot 59 percent after halftime, with 15 steals leading to breakaways.
"I think this team should be able to generate easy baskets," Summitt said. The Volunteers had the home-court edge at the neutral site. Many fans made the trip from Gainesville following the Tennessee football team's upset of Florida on Saturday.