Tennessee defeated in-state rival Vanderbilt at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday afternoon, 67-63. The Lady Vols improve to 18-9 on the season and 8-6 in SEC play while the Commodores fall below .500 with a 13-14 record, and 3-11 in conference play.
“Well, I knew this was going to be a tough game,” said coach Kellie Harper. “I’m happy to get back into the win column. Vanderbilt was able to answer our runs with some of their own, and it was tough. It was a tough game, but I'm proud of our team.”
Three Tennessee players finished with 10 or more points in the game. Rennia Davis finished with a team-high 18 points and recorded 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. Jordan Horston came off the bench to give the Lady Vols 16 points and five assists. Rae Burrell ended the game with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Vanderbilt’s Chelsie Hall scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Teammate Mariella Fasoula had a double-double as she finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Both teams combined for just nine points to start the game, with Tennessee leading 6-3 during the first five minutes of play, with most of the action coming from the free throw line. After the media timeout, the two teams caught fire, and Davis led the way for The Lady Vols, making a jumper to make the score 16-9, Tennessee. Fasoula continued to generate offense for Vanderbilt as she made a shot from inside the paint. Jordyn Cambridge made a three at the buzzer to cut the Lady Vols’ lead to 18-14.
The second quarter began with a Tennessee drive led by Jazmine Massengill dishing it to Davis for a quick transition score. Horston and Davis led another Lady Vols’ charge with Horston assisting Davis to increase Tennessee’s lead, 24-18. The Lady Vols capped off their 10-0 run after Horston scored an uncontested layup. The Commodores responded with a 6-0 run of their own, until Jessie Rennie made a corner three to give Tennessee a 10 point lead. Vanderbilt scored five quick points to cut the lead to 38-33 before the half.
“The game is starting to slow down like coaches have been telling me,” said Horston. “I’m just letting it come to me and am just trying to play my game. I just feel like today was a little slower for me today, and I was able to come off the bench and deliver some spark.”
Horston and Davis provided an early spark for the Lady Vols in the beginning of the quarter to increase their team’s lead to eight. Vanderbilt answered with a 7-0 run to cut Tennessee’s lead to just one. Davis made a quick transition jumper to push the Lady Vols’ lead to three. Before the end of the third quarter, Burrell and Davis made back-to-back shots to give Tennessee a 51-47 lead.
“I feel like our defensive intensity in the second quarter was a lot more lackadaisical than the first quarter and the fourth quarter,” said Davis. “We were able to get that lead in the first quarter because we had good defensive pressure, and we were getting our screens off well, with good communication. In the second quarter, we kinda got a little lax.”
In the final quarter, the Commodores took a one point lead after a 5-0 run. The Lady Vols regained themselves offensively and went on an 8-0 run, after three different Tennessee players scored baskets. Vanderbilt didn’t give up and would go on another run, at 7-2, with a little over a minute to play. Horston and Massengill would finish the game off after the latter made an uncontested layup and the former made one of her two free throws to give the Lady Vols a 67-63 victory.
Tennessee will play in their final home game on Thursday against Ole Miss at 7 p.m. for Senior Night at Thompson-Boling Arena.