The Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team took on Central Arkansas at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday night in their home opener.
After a slow start, the Lady Vols ran away in the third quarter and improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 63-36 rout of the visiting Sugar Bears.
Freshman Jordan Horston was the star of the show for Tennessee, recording 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and was a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. Outside of scoring, Horston grabbed five rebounds and served three assists in her first career start.
Fellow freshman Tamari Key scored eight points and also tallied five rebounds. Key also lead the team in blocks with three.
“Well there is no doubt that those two are really talented," Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said. “You can see the dynamic play that Jordan had and the fundamentals that tamari had. I am really excited for both of those players and their futures. They are still young and they are going to learn. It was a really good step for them.”
In the first quarter, Key lead the offense with 6 points, sinking all three of her shots. She also made her presence known under the basket as she secured three of Tennessee’s 11 rebounds.
Horston charged up the offense as well, she added 8 points of her own and finished the quarter 2-of-2 on three point attempts. The quarter ended with Tennessee on top 20-18.
Horston continued playing with the hot-hand in the second quarter, and scored 5 points while shooting 2-of-2. The rest of the offense only shot 41.7 percent from the field, but did have a 33.3 shooting percentage from behind the arc. Tennessee went into the half with a 33-25 lead.
“I felt like I got to slow down a little big and just play my game,” Horston said. “The first couple of games, I was a little jittery and I needed to slow down and just the game come to me. I’m thankful for my teammates for calming me down and getting my back.”
In the second half, Tennessee held Central Arkansas to just 11 points. The Lady Vols defense was smothering, keeping the Sugar Bears offense at bay as they shot just 16.7% and 12.5% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
By the end of the game, Central Arkansas could only manage a 25.4 shooting percentage and a 9.5 three point percentage.
“I thought our defensive intensity and effort was much better in the latter part of the game,” Harper said. “We talked about it during the time out in the first half and we got after it on halftime. I told them that they were not giving us what we needed defensively. I felt like Central Arkansas was a little too comfortable in the first half and we changed that with our defensive pressure in the second half.”
Tennessee will now look ahead to 2019 NCAA Women’s Tournament runner-up and No. 16 Notre Dame in South Bend.
Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at the Joyce Center on ESPN2.