The University of Tennessee women’s basketball team defeated Alabama, 82-56, on Sunday afternoon at Coleman Coliseum. The No. 23 Lady Vols improved to 9-2 on the season, and 3-1 in the SEC, while the Crimson Tide fell to 11-2 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
“I’m really, really excited and really proud of our team,” Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said. “I'm really proud of our execution. I’m really proud of us offensively. I’m really proud of our defensive effort. That is a really good basketball team that we played today. They are so balanced across the board and our team came to play today. They did what we asked them to do and I’m just really proud of them. This was a nice bounce-back win for us.”
Tennessee had a quartet of players finish in the double-figures. Rennia Davis led the pack with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, while also adding three steals. Rae Burrell was next with 17 points. Tamari Key finished with 15 points, six rebounds, seven assists and one block. Jordan Horston rounded out the group as she scored 14 points.
Alabama’s Jordan Lewis scored a game-high 22 points. She also grabbed two boards and dished out two assists. Jasmine Walker was second on the team with 17 points, and first with 12 rebounds.
The opening quarter started off with two offenses running on all cylinders. Just a minute in, both teams started off with draining shots from behind the arc. Lewis and Walker pushed Alabama ahead 8-5, but Burrell kicked off a 6-0 Tennessee run after hitting a shot from midrange. The Lady Vols would hold an 11-8 lead before the Tide would go on a 6-0 lead of their own and reclaim the lead. Alabama held the lead until the final seconds, as Horston drained a three to tie the score at 16-all as the quarter came to an end.
Tennessee started the second quarter with flair as Horston started a 19-0 run with a reverse layup, putting the Lady Vols up, 32-16. Ariyah Copeland ended the dry spell for Alabama until Davis and Burrell stretched Tennessee’s lead by six more points to put them ahead 19 with just over 2:30 to go. The two programs would trade shots and Tennessee would lead, 42-23, going into the half.
“I mean they can’t guard it, nobody can guard it,” Davis said. “You just can’t guard it. You can’t guard us inside and out, you have to pick one and whichever one you pick, we usually expose you in the other area. I just don’t think that you can guard it when everybody is scoring and doing as well as they did today.”
Alabama whittled Tennessee’s lead down to 15, but Davis and Burrell scored back-to-back threes to put Tennessee ahead by 20. Over the next couple of minutes, the two teams went tit-for-tat with one another, until Davis scored eight-straight points for the Lady Vols. The Tide cut down the deficit to 17 after a Megan Abrams jumper, but Tennessee outscored Alabama 10-4 in the remaining minutes. The Lady Vols took a 70-47 lead into the final stanza after Jordan Walker hit a trey at the buzzer.
Burrell started the final quarter by pushing the Lady Vols’ lead to 25. Walker and Davis scored the next four and helped Alabama to cut the lead to 74-51 before the media timeout. After the break, Tess Darby and Marta Suárez nailed back-to-back threes to increase Tennessee’s lead to 29 points with just three minutes left. The game ended on a 5-2 Alabama run, with the final score being 82-56, in favor of Tennessee.
Up next for Tennessee is a match against No. 4 UConn at Thompson-Boling Arena at 7 p.m. ET Thursday.