Lady Vols battle LSU to the very end for 64-62 win

BATON ROUGE, La. (UT Release) - In dramatic fashion, the No. 12/13 Lady Vols battled down to the wire with LSU as freshman Bashaara Graves sank the game-winning bucket with .8 seconds left to defeat the Tigers, 64-62, at the Rich Maravich Assembly Center Thursday.

In the first meeting between between first-year head coach Holly Warlick and former Lady Vol and current LSU coach Nikki Caldwell, Tennessee (18-5, 9-1 SEC) powered through the LSU defense to earn its ninth SEC win of the season, and seventh straight victory over the Tigers. LSU fell to 13-10 overall and 4-6 in league action.

Junior Meighan Simmons led the team as she posted 18 points, while Graves followed with 17. Sophomores Ariel Massengale and Cierra Burdick added nine apiece. Burdick grabbed a team-best nine boards with senior Kamiko Williams bringing down six.

The Lady Vols shot 49.1 percent (27-of-55) from the field for the game, while shooting 60 percent in the second half alone. UT went 41.7 percent (5-of-12) from the 3-point range and 50 percent (5-of-10) from the free throw line.

LSU's Theresa Plaisance led all players as she tallied 20 points for the Tigers. Bianca Lutley added 13, while freshman Danielle Ballard contributed 10.

The Lady Vols jumped to a 9-0 lead to start the game, gaining as much as an 11-point lead as they went up 13-2 before the Tigers battled their way back. LSU scored eight straight to cut it to three, then went on to a 7-0 run to give them a one-point lead at the under-9 minute mark in the opening half. UT led 28-26 heading into the locker rooms at the halfway point.

Coming out of the break, the Lady Vols kick started their efforts as they went up 34-27 before LSU responded again.

For every basket UT made, LSU would respond with its own. With four minutes remaining, a charge was called on Massengale as momentum seemed to turn in the Tigers' favor.

LSU hung on to the lead until 7.1 seconds left when Burdick was fouled. She missed the first free throw before making the second to tie it up, 62-62. A UT steal on the Tigers' inbounds pass would give Tennessee the ball back, before Graves made the final basket with .8 seconds on the clock to give UT the lead and victory.

The Lady Vols return to Rocky Top as they face Ole Miss Sunday in a 2 p.m. contest.

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