Lady Vols- Key

Tennessee center Tamari Key (20) Mizzou Tigers vs. No. 20 Tennessee Volunteers at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics

The No. 20/21 Tennessee women’s basketball team used a 20-point fourth-quarter performance from Rennia Davis to achieve a 78-73 victory Thursday night against Missouri. After the win, the Lady Vols improved to 13-6 overall and 7-4 in the SEC, while the Tigers dropped to 8-10 for the season and 4-9 in the conference.

“Coming into this game, the staff knew, our team knew, that this was going to be a tough game,” Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said. “Their style of play is going to challenge our team. I felt like it took us a long time to figure things out. If you have watched Missouri their last few games, this is how they play. They have been in every single game. They are so much better than their record, and fortunately, our team knew that.”

The Lady Vols were led by the scoring duo of Davis and Rae Burrell. The two Tennessee veterans dropped 49 points in the victory. Davis scored a game-high 26 points with seven rebounds and three assists, while Burrell tallied 23 points along with eight boards and one dime. Jordan Horston was the big contributor off the bench with nine points, two rebounds, and a team-high six assists.

Mizzou had a quartet of players in double digits. Aijha Blackwell recorded 16 points and eight rebounds. Haley Troup scored the next 16 points. Shannon Dufficy scored 10 points while adding four boards and four assists. Finally, Shug Dickson rounds out the group with the next 10 points, three rebounds and four assists.

Tennessee jumped to a quick 5-0 lead in the first quarter after a three from Burrell and a layup from Horston. Troup broke through for the first Mizzou bucket of the night, but the Lady Vols quickly answered with two quick makes from Burrell to lead 9-2.

Mizzou’s offense started to heat up for an 11-0 run with eight of those points coming from Troup, giving the Tigers their first lead of the night. The final two and a half minutes were a back and forth affair with Tennessee dealing the last blow, a layup from Tamari Key. Missouri took an 18-17 lead into the second quarter.

A Lauren Hansen three kicked off the scoring for the second quarter, which added on to the Tiger’s lead. The two teams would continue the back and forth trend from the first quarter until Burrell kicked off an 8-0 run for the Lady Vols to give them back the lead.

Troup broke up the Tennessee scoring barrage on two consecutive plays to cut the lead 31-30, Lady Vols. Burrell scored the final basket for Tennessee of the quarter, a shot from three-point land. The Tigers took a 6-0 run and a 36-34 lead into the half after Blackwell hit a shot from the charity stripe.

The second half was an offensive onslaught from both teams. Blackwell continued Mizzou’s run with a quick layup. Burrell answered a three on the other end to cut the deficit to just one. Hayley Frank answered with a fast-break three of her own with Blackwell hitting a second-chance layup to push the Tiger’s lead to six.

The Lady Vols nailed two quick buckets, putting the score at 43-41, Mizzou. Both programs would continue to go tit-for-tat with each other until the final minutes when the Tigers started a 5-0 run that was capped by a Dickson three, bringing a score of 60-55 into the final quarter.

“It was a source of concern before the game and it frustrated us at halftime,” Harper said. “We had to guard some actions we haven’t seen in a whole lot of, but we knew that’s how they played. We hung in there and they were getting their threes in a variety of ways. There were some defensive breakdowns during transitions, but also some well-executed plays on their part. We did a much better job late in the fourth quarter and we took them off the three-point line late and we needed that.”

The Lady Vols took control early in the final stanza, with Key and Davis scoring the first eight points of the quarter, giving Tennessee a 63-60 lead. Frank tied the game for Mizzou with a bucket from deep. Davis scored the next two baskets on a fast break to break the tie. T

he two teams continued to deal blows until after the media timeout when the Tigers tied the game back up after going on a 5-0 run. Nothing would stop Davis during the fourth, as Tennessee’s captain turned in a 5-0 run of her own, to help ice the game, giving the Lady Vols a 78-73 victory against Missouri.

“I just try to do whatever this team needs me to do,” Davis said. “Obviously, in the first half, I was in a bit of foul trouble but we went into halftime down and I just knew that this was a huge game for us, as well as the next game, so I just did whatever it took to win the game.”

Tennessee will face-off against Auburn for their final regular-season game on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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