Monday night’s matchup between No. 24 Tennessee (15-3, 5-1 SEC) and Alabama (11-7, 1-4 SEC) ended in exciting fashion as Rennia Davis hit the game-winning 3-pointer with .02 seconds left to give Tennessee the 65-63 win at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Here are three takeaways.
Slow and Steady
Tennessee came out of the gates clicking on offense as they shot 50% in the first quarter. Davis led the opening quarter with six points on an efficient 3 of 4 shooting. The second quarter told a different story as the Lady Vols shot 21% and only went 1-for- 6 from 3-point land. The Lady Vols offensive inefficiencies during the start was triggered from a lack of ball control. Tennessee gave up 11 turnovers and seven of them came in the opening period.
“I think this was the first time that we have seen the face guard on Rennia,” Lou Brown said. “Obviously, we are used to our offense going through her hands a lot and we had to adjust to that. It was a little difficult for us, but sometimes you just have to find a way and I think we did that tonight.”
The second half of the game was a more typical Tennessee offensive showing. As a team, Tennessee shot 47% from the field and a scorching 75% from 3-point range. They were also able to cut down on turnovers as they only coughed the ball up four times. The Lady Vols had one of their best shooting performances in the final period. The unit shot 71% from the field, 10 of 14, and even drained two 3-pointers in the quarter.
“It was somewhat of how we drew up,” Davis said. “The step-back is kinda my shot, so I was looking for that shot and my teammates were looking for me to shoot the ball, as they were getting ready to get the potential rebound. I was just trying to make a play.”
Tennessee’s defense performed much like the offense, starting off stingy but eventually gave up better looks to Alabama. The Lady Crimson Tide shot 21% in the first half and only 13% from behind the arc. The second half tells another tale as Alabama shot 50% from both the field and 3-point territory. They were even able to cut down its turnovers from five to one.
While the defensive unit as a whole struggled down the stretch, Tamari Key and Jordan Horston did not. Key dominated the glass as she snagged 10 rebounds, eight of them defensive and even managed to get six blocks. Horston was the perfect compliment as she too tallied eight defensive rebounds and was second on the team in blocks, with four.
Monday’s win marks the 300th career win for Lady Vols head coach Kellie Harper. In her 16th year as a head coach and her first as the head coach for Tennessee, Harper has led her team to a 15-3 record along with a 5-1 SEC record.
Their two out of conference losses came from Texas and Stanford, while a loss to Kentucky is their only blemish during conference play. Tennessee is currently riding a four-game winning streak, its longest such streak since they started the season out undefeated at 7-0.
The Tennessee women’s basketball program made history as well because tonight was its 400th SEC regular season victory. Tennessee ranks first in the league by more than 90 victories. On a slightly smaller scale, the Lady Vols snapped a 5-game losing streak against Alabama which dates back to 2016.
Tennessee now sets their sights on Uconn as the two teams get ready to play on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Hartford, Connecticut.