Knoxville, Tenn. (UT Sports)-- No. 12/13 Tennessee made history on defense when it held Central Arkansas scoreless in the fourth quarter and to 10 total second-half points in a 77-34 victory on Thursday night in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Sugar Bears (3-2) came into the game averaging 78.8 points per game on .504 shooting from the field, but the Lady Vols' best defensive effort since the season-opening ETSU game limited Central Arkansas to only 23.7 percent shooting from the field. The zero points scored by UCA in the final stanza of the game was the first time UT (7-0) has ever held an opponent scoreless in a quarter. The 10 points allowed in the second half also stood as a program best.
The Lady Vols had three players score in the double digits for the game. Coming off being named Sports Madness SEC Player of the Week, Russell collected her 33rd double-double of her career with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Anastasia Hayes continued her early season success, filling the stat sheet with 14 points, three rebounds, four steals and four assists. Meme Jackson broke into double-digit scoring for the first time on the season, adding 11 points.
Halfway through the first quarter, Tennessee found itself down one, as Central Arkansas led 6-5. A 15-0 run that lasted until almost the second quarter, however, broke the game open. Upperclassmen Russell and Jackson provided the offensive spark that saw the Lady Vols pull away for a 22-8 first quarter lead.
The Sugar Bears found most of their offensive success in the second stanza, but Tennessee still outpaced them, as the teams went into the break with UT leading 43-24. Russell and Jackson led UT with 11 points each.
In the second half, the Lady Vol offense slowed down, but defensive pressure more than made up for it. Hayes scored nine of her points and combined with Jackson for five steals during the half. The defensive intensity in the second half saw UT finish the game with season bests in steals and turnovers forced, 13 and 24 respectively.
Tennessee used its athletic and length advantages to their full extent on offense, dominating in the paint and on fast breaks where the team led UCA 38-18 and 14-0 respectively. UT also saw a wide margin in points off turnovers, as the team led that category 22-4.
Taylor Baudoin set the pace for Central Arkansas, leading her team with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Up Next: Tennessee plays the second game of its four-game home stand at Knoxville with a matchup versus Alabama State on Sunday. The game is set for a 2 p.m. start time and is available for streaming online via SECN+.
One Year Later: Tennessee's scoring margin of +43 is the team's best since exactly one year ago versus Tennessee State when the Lady Vols won by 50. Tonight was also the first time UT has held a team under 40 points since that night.
Hot Shots: After shooting 50% from the field against Central Arkansas, Tennessee has shot better than 45% in five of its seven games to date.
Fast Starts: Tennessee has scored 22 or more points in the first quarter in five of seven games thus far this season. In those games the Lady Vols have outscored opponents 118-64.
Balanced Offense: Tennessee has had at least three players score in double figures in every game this season and has had four or more in double digits on four occasions.
Free Throws On The Way Up: After struggling from the line in the first three games of the season, Tennessee has improved its free throw percentage in its last four games, averaging 71.6% over the three-day Cancun Challenge tournament and improving again to 80% against Central Arkansas.
Big Green Rebounding Machine: In 124 minutes of action, 6-3 redshirt junior Cheridene Green is averaging one rebound every 2:36. That is the highest rebound-to-minute ratio on the team. Jaime Nared is second, averaging one rebound every 3:13.
Super Sub: Freshman guard Anastasia Hayes has come off the bench to score in double figures in six of Tennessee's seven contests. Only redshirt senior Mercedes Russell has more double-digit games.