The Lady Vols welcomed SEC rival Georgia to Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday afternoon as the Vols pulled out a 73-56 win. With the win, Tennessee improves to 13-3 on the season and 3-1 in SEC play, while Georgia falls to 10-7 and 1-3 in SEC matchups.
“I’m proud of our team,” Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said. “I thought that was one of our better basketball games and I think we saw some growth from our team both offensively and defensively. We can continue to build on games like this.”
The first quarter opened with thunderous applause after Jordan Horston dropped a pass to Tamari Key underneath the basket for an open layup.
Georgia’s Que Morrison answered with a layup of her own. Horston continued to be a distributor as she assisted on a Key contested jumper and Rennia Davis’ three to give Tennessee a 7-5 lead.
Jazmine Massengill made the next five points of the game as she went a perfect 2-2 from the free throw line and made a corner three to push Tennessee to an 8-0 run. Gabby Connally of Georgia connected from 3-point land to cut the lead to 12-8. With three minutes remaining, Georgia would go on an 8-0 run to take an 18-17 point lead, and eventually would lead at the end of the quarter with a score of 20-19.
Scoring was harder to come by during the second quarter. Only six points were made in the first five minutes, with Georgia holding onto a 24-21 lead.
The Lady Vols were able to find an offensive spark from Davis who scored her team’s second basket of the quarter on a reverse layup. After that, Key made her two free throws to tie the game at 25. Tennessee gave up a basket to Stephanie Paul, but immediately tied the game on a fast break bucket from Horston.
Tennessee kept on rolling as Horston made a three to give the Lady Vols their first lead of the second quarter. They would go on to extend their lead after a layup from Davis and a 3-pointer from Rae Burrell, to finish the half up 35-29.
“I think in the first quarter they shot 69% and I’m not surprised they scored 20 points in the first, but I think a lot of the looks they had in the first quarter were wide open,” Davis said. “We fell into a lot of their screens but we were able to adjust and slow them down.”
Both teams were dealing blows to start off the half. A three by Georgia’s Maya Caldwell was followed up by a Massengill trey. Georgia then made a layup with eight minutes remaining in the quarter, and for the next four minutes, it was all Tennessee.
During that four minute span, Brown, Horston, and Key each made baskets, including a three by Brown, to give Tennessee a 47-34 edge. Connally finally got Georgia back on the board with a jumper before the media timeout. That break in play seemed to help Georgia find their footing as they were able to cut the lead to 53-43.
The final period mirrored the third, with each team trading baskets early and Tennessee eventually pulling away. After Georgia cut the lead to single digits, Key made a layup in transition and Teneessee made wide open back-to-back threes thanks to Davis and Brown, putting the Lady Vols ahead by 16. The rest of the quarter was a back and forth affair with Tennessee defeating Georgia, 73-56.
“We feed off of each other,” Horston said. “When one person hits a shot, it motivates everyone else to want to do better. We have also hit the gym. Our coaches have been getting onto us about getting extra shots and holding everyone accountable. We have that confidence in ourselves and our coaches have that confidence in us.”
Up next for Tennessee is a trip down to Gainesville, Florida to take on the Florida Gators on Thursday at 6 p.m.