Tennessee rolls past Spartans, 66-40
The Lady Vols picked up their fourth home win of the season on Sunday, 5-1 overall
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Lady Vols picked up their fourth home win of the season on Sunday, toppling UNCG in Thompson-Boling Arena, 66-40. Tennessee (5-1) was led by senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah who finished with a season-high 13 points and four rebounds. Scoring and minutes were evenly spread amongst the Lady Vols with all 11 active players contributing at least two points to the victory and seven contributing five or more points. Every UT player saw at least 13 minutes of playing time, with the reserves netting valuable experience with the SEC schedule approaching.
UNCG (1-7) was led by Tori Powell who logged 16 points and four rebounds. Lily Izundu and Excellanxt Greer each pitched in six points.Tennessee wasted no time getting on the board, winning the tip and going up 2-0 off a Rennia Davis layup just seven seconds into the competition. Davis followed it up with five more points before the media timeout, putting the Lady Vols up 7-3 with 4:35 remaining in the quarter. Immediately following the break, Destiny Salary came up with a steal that resulted in a Kushkituah layup in transition, setting off seven unanswered points before Izundu hit a jumper in the closing seconds of the quarter to make the score to 14-5, UT.
Tennessee spread the ball around in the opening minutes of the second period with Burrell, Tamari Key & Marta Suárez all hitting buckets to build UT’s lead to 20-7 three minutes in. Rhianna Council answered with a trey on the other end to put the Spartans in double digits. The teams traded baskets through the middle of the quarter until Davis, Tess Darby and Salary combined to fuel an 8-2 run that put UT up by 15 with 54 second left in the half. CeCe Crudup managed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, pulling UNCG within 12 at 31-19 at the break. Jordan Horston kicked things off in the second half with a steal and a score, but Powell answered on the next possession with a trey for the Spartans. The Lady Vols built their lead up to 17 by the 5:46 mark off points from Suárez and Burrell.
The Spartans rallied back with a Greer three with just over four minutes left in the period, but the Lady Vols closed out the quarter with an 8-2 run to lead 49-29 entering the final stanza. The Spartans heated up from behind the arc, hitting three treys in the fourth quarter, but Tennessee closed out the game with an 11-0 run spanning the final 3:48 of the game to win 66-40.
Up Next: Tennessee will return to action on Monday, Dec. 28, hosting Lipscomb in a 7 p.m. contest that will be available for streaming on SECN+.
Lockdown Defense: UT held UNCG to five first-quarter points, tying for the seventh-fewest points scored in a quarter by a UT opponent. The Spartans’ 40 points for the game ranked as the fourth-fewest scored against Tennessee during the Kellie Harper era. The 27.8 percent field goal shooting by UNCG marked the sixth time in as many games that the Lady Vols have held foes under 40 percent. Only eight opponents in two seasons have surpassed that percentage.
Meaningful Minutes: Kellie Harper was hoping to get her reserves some meaningful minutes on Sunday, and she was able to accomplish that. Five players had season highs for minutes, and two of those Lady Vols posted career highs. Sophomore Tamari Key (18:05) Jessie Rennie (21:20) saw their most minutes this season, while sophomore Emily Saunders (15:24) and freshmen Destiny Salary (21:49) and Tess Darby (20:15) saw the most playing time of their careers.
Positive Turnover Trend: Despite playing a lot of different players and lineups, Tennessee committed a season-low 10 turnovers vs. UNCG. After posting 24 and 20, respectively, vs. ETSU and West Virginia, the Lady Vols have posted totals of 14, 15 and 10 in their last three contests.
Dishing The Rock: Tennessee recorded 27 field goals with 23 of those being assisted by another player. It marked the third time this season the Lady Vols have posted 20+ dimes in a game. Jordan Horston led UT with five, marking the third time in four games she has posted five or more.
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