The Lady Vols (6-1) shot only 35 percent and committed 19 turnovers, but they outrebounded the Colonials 51-35, including 25-11 on the offensive boards. The two-time defending NCAA champs, retooling with a young roster, won their fifth straight and snapped GW's 17-game homecourt winning streak.
Tennessee is perennially a Top 10 team, while GW (4-3) traditionally hovers in or close to the Top 25. The difference has been big enough, however, for the Lady Vols to win all eight meetings between the schools by an average of 21.1 points -- until Tuesday night.
A string of turnovers allowed the Colonials to cut a 13-point second-half deficit to two, and Jazmine Adair missed an easy layup that would have tied the score at 56 with 4Â½ minutes to play. A foul during the scramble for the rebound sent Tennessee to the line, and the Lady Vols slowly rebuilt their lead by hitting six of eight free throws over the next 2 minutes.
Shekinna Strickland's banked-in jumper from the free-throw line put Tennessee ahead 64-56 with 2:08 to play, and Angie Bjorklund hit another 3 with 1:11 to go.
Johnson led the Lady Vols in scoring despite shooting just 3-of-15. She made 10 of 12 free throws and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Tara Booker scored 14 points to lead the Colonials. Jessica Adair, GW's second-leading scorer on the season, scored six points and fouled out with 3:58 to play.
Although Tennessee never trailed, this one never threatened to become a blowout. Every time the Lady Vols tried to pull away, the Colonials answered.
An 8-0 run gave Tennessee a 13-point lead late in the first half, but Booker's 3-pointer just before the horn pulled GW to 35-27 at the break. Johnson's inside basket restored the 13-point lead with 14 1/2 minutes remaining, but a 6-0 GW spurt had Tennessee coach Pat Summitt again strolling the bench with arms folded and a concerned look on her face.