Monday, the Tennessee Lady Vols welcomed the Alabama Crimson Tide to Thompson-Boling Arena. It came down to the last minute, but Tennessee got the thrilling win over rival Alabama 65-63.
Rennia Davis, Jazmine Massengill, Tamari Key, Lou Brown and Jordan Horston got the start for the Big Orange. Horston was the Lady Vols’ leading scorer with 19 points. Davis led the team in minutes, was second in shooting with 16 and made the play of the night.
“I’m glad we were able to find a way to get a win,” Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said postgame. “That’s a pretty tough basketball team that we played tonight. They made a bunch of shots going down the stretch and proud of our team for hanging in there. It was tough; First game we’ve had like that, where you’ve just had to gut it out. Hopefully, it will be a learning experience for us, but I told them at halftime, it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty, doesn’t matter what it looks like if you get a win.”
The two teams traded baskets to open the game until the Lady Vols started to pull away. After the Crimson Tide sunk their second shot of the game to go up 4-2, Tennessee was able to go on an 8-0 run to gain some distance between them and their visitors. The Lady Vols would go on to finish the first quarter up 13-8. Davis finished the quarter as the leading scorer with Brown netting the quarter’s only three-pointer.
The opening of the second frame was very defensive, as neither side scored for the first 1:48. The deadlock was broken by Key from the free throw line. The first points from the field came 3:30 into the frame when the Alabama’s Jordan Lewis completed a 3-pointer. Tennessee narrowly edged out the Crimson Tide 11-9, with four of the Lady Vols’ points coming from the free throw line.
Alabama came storming out of the halftime break, going on a 16-7 run to tie the game with 3:17 left in the third quarter. Ayriah Copeland scored six points during the game-tying run for the Crimson Tide. Tennessee responded with an 8-4 run of its own, to regain the lead going into the fourth quarter, despite Alabama getting the slight third quarter edge 20-17. Three different Lady Vols players all contributed a single bucket to the quarter ending run.
The fourth quarter came down to the wire. The Crimson Tide tied up the game with 2:08 remaining, setting up a tense ending to the game.
Davis regained the lead with a jumper, but Lewis gave Alabama the lead with a 3-pointer. Tennessee was again in the lead following a Key miss and a Burrell put-back. With 39 seconds remaining, Cierra Johnson sank a jumper from the SEC logo to go up one.
Following the series of events, Burrell earned and converted two free throws, but Johnson countered with two free throws on the other end to keep the Crimson Tide in the lead. The play of the game though, was when Davis nailed a three pointer with only eight tenths of a second left to put the Lady Vols up two. Alabama’s subsequent desperation 3-point attempt fell short, and Harper earned her 300th career win as a head coach.
“That was somewhat what we drew up,” Davis said of her game-winning shot. “But the step back was kind of my shot. So, I was just looking for that shot, and I mean, my teammates were looking for me to shoot the ball and were just all getting ready to rebound so I was just trying to make a play.”
The Lady Vols are back in action this Thursday on the road against historical rival UConn. Their next home game is this Sunday, when LSU comes to town for “We Back Pat” night.