With the clock waning in the first quarter, sophomore guard Rennia Davis launched a shot from beyond the arc and watched as it bounced off of the iron, into the air and back down into the net.
Around the 8-minute mark of the fourth quarter, holding a relatively comfortable lead, senior forward Cheridene Green fell to the floor, fighting for a rebound that she kicked out to Jazmine Massengill to keep the possession alive.
It was that kind of night for the Lady Vols.
In a season where a lot of things have gone wrong, everything went right for Tennessee versus the Florida Gators on Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
That combination of effort and good fortune proved to be the winning formula for the Lady Vols (14-7, 3-5 SEC), who won their second-straight conference game in dominating fashion, topping the Gators (5-16, 1-7 SEC), 67-50.
The win moved Tennessee to 52-4 all-time versus Florida.
“Great win for us tonight,” head coach Holly Warlick said. “We did some really, really good things. I thought our defense was solid. We distributed the basketball with a lot of people scoring. Just really proud of our team.”
Following the win over LSU on Sunday, the Lady Vols were hoping to replicate that first half performance against Florida. By the time the first timeout was called, Tennessee had already grabbed an 11-4 lead just over five minutes into the contest.
From there, Tennessee didn’t look back, shooting over 51 percent from the field and more than 60 percent from three, taking a 39-27 advantage into the intermission.
The quick starts in back-to-back games have been a refreshing site for Warlick and have been important factors in getting the Lady Vols back on track.
“It means a lot,” sophomore guard Rennia Davis said. “We always talk about us finishing. The past few games I think we were able to do so. Basketball is a game of runs, but just being able to close out the game is big for us.”
Tennessee showed no signs of let up in the second half, despite Florida’s persistence to hang around.
After fighting through a slump at a time when the Lady Vols were struggling to find ways to win, Davis has seemingly returned to form in the last two games.
Ironically, it was the Jacksonville, Fla., native who picked the Gators apart, notching her fifth double-double performance of the season with 19 points, along with 10 rebounds in the win.
If the last two games have shown Tennessee anything, it is that when things are going well for Davis, things are going well for the Lady Vols, which was even more important on a night when players like Evina Westbrook and Zaay Green only had eight and five points, respectively.
“The last four practices, (Davis) has really committed to playing hard in everything we do,” Warlick said. “This morning she got up shots for 45 minutes. She gets in the gym. I think the distraction of not really focusing on her scoring ability has really, really helped her.”
Inside, Cheridene Green had 15 points and 10 rebounds, good for her fourth such performance on the season.
The senior has now had seven double-digit rebounds in the Lady Vols’ last eight games.
“I think I’ve just gotten a lot more confident in myself,” Green said. “I think hearing from my teammates who believe in me really helps me.”
But not to be overlooked was Tennessee’s defense, which held a Florida team that prides itself in perimeter shooting to just 6-of-26 from the three-point land.
The Lady Vols also managed to out rebound the Gators 37-10 on the defensive end.
“I think our press made them nervous,” Warlick said. “It ran some time off of the clock; that’s what we wanted. It kind of set the tone for us to be a little bit more aggressive on the defensive end.”
Tennessee will ride their two-game win streak into Nashville on Sunday where they will face Vanderbilt (6-14, 1-6 SEC) in the first of a two-game road stretch.
Tip-off is slated for 3 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium and will be broadcast on ESPN2.