The University of Tennessee women’s basketball team lost a 71-56 heartbreaker to Kentucky after having erased an 11-point deficit. After the loss, the No. 16/19 Lady Vols fall to 12-4 on the season and 6-2 in the SEC, while the No. 20/18 Wildcats climb to 14-4 this year and 7-4 in the conference.
“I was proud of our team’s fight tonight, but I was disappointed that we couldn’t come out of here on top,” Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said. “It was an interesting game, obviously with the runs. We had too many turnovers which led to easy buckets for them. I thought their zone stalled us out offensively a bit to start that fourth quarter. We missed too many free throws and Kentucky went 5-for-5 from the three-point line and that’s tough to handle.”
Rae Burrell led the way for the Lady Vols. The junior guard dropped a team-high 22 points, while also grabbing six boards. Jordan Horston was the only other Lady Vol to finish in the double figures for points with 11, and she recorded seven boards, three assists and two blocks.
Senior captain, Rennia Davis, did not travel with the team to Lexington due to medical reasons.
Kentucky also had just two players finish with double-digit points. Chasity Patterson finished with a team-high 21 points and five rebounds. Jazmine Massengill dropped 11 points (3-5 from three) and dished out three assists.
Burrell opened up the scoring for both teams with a layup early in the first quarter. Each team would follow that up with layups and then go cold for the next minute and a half. Patterson ended the cold spell with a three, which gave Kentucky a 5-4 lead.
Tennessee would take the lead a minute later after Horston drained a turn-around jumper. The Wildcats scored the next five points after Blair Green hit a shot from behind the arc and Olivia Owens scored off of a turnover. Burrell stopped the run for the Lady Vols and cut the deficit by two. Each team scored three points to finish the quarter and Kentucky took a 13-11 lead into the second.
The second quarter started with a layup from Patterson to increase Kentucky’s lead to four. Burrell made a jumper on the other end and answered with a 5-0 run from the Wildcats. Horston put an end to Kentucky’s run after hitting a jumper in the paint, which then started a 5-0 for the Lady Vols.
Tatyana Wyatt hit a three with 7:30 left in the half to push Kentucky’s lead to 23-18. Tamari Key hit a jumper, which would be the only shot Tennessee would make for five minutes. During that time, Kentucky would go on a 12-0 run that was manufactured by five Wildcats to create a 15-point lead.
Burrell stopped the bleeding with two minutes left, and the Lady Vols started a 6-0 run of their own, but Patterson ended that with a jumper to close out the half as Kentucky took a 37-26 lead into the half.
“Tonight, I’m not sure,” Jordan Walker said. “Sometimes we have times like that when we’re taking care of the ball and have no pressure. Through all of it, we just stayed together and that’s how we had that good third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter we ran into some trouble cause they did shoot well.”
The third quarter was all Tennessee, as they scored the first four points of the second half to cut the lead to seven. Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard made a layup, but it didn’t slow down the Lady Vols as they built up a 15-0 run to take a 45-39 lead.
Massengill drained a shot from behind the arc to cut the lead in half and Wyatt charged in for a layup to narrow it further to just one. Each team scored just one more basket and Tennessee finished the third quarter with a 47-46 lead.
The Wildcats retook the lead within the first 20 seconds of the quarter. Kentucky piled on five more points to grow their lead to six. Kasiyahna Kushkituah and Horston made back-to-back jumpers to cut the lead to 53-51, Kentucky. The two programs traded blows until the five-minute mark where Kentucky outscored Tennessee 13-1 over the next four minutes.
Walker hit a layup, but it was too little too late as Tennessee was down by 12 with just a minute remaining. Kentucky hit a three to close out the game and took home a 71-56 victory.
Tennessee will continue its three-game road trip with a match against No. 6/5 Texas A&M on Sunday at 3 p.m. at College Station, Texas.