Harper era off to 4-0 start after win over TSU

Lady Vols win against Tennessee State / Source: WVLT News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Lady Vols defeated the Tennessee State Tigers on Thursday night, 73-43.

The win marked the third-straight year that UT has started out 4-0, and the Lady Vols improved to 6-0 all-time against the Lady Tigers (1-1).

Eight players for the Big Orange scored during the first of six consecutive home games, with three of them scoring in double digits. Sophomore Rae Burrell came off the bench to lead the way with a career-high-tying 14, while junior Rennia Davis and junior Kasiyahna Kushkituah added 12 and 11, respectively.

Davis, the current SEC Player of the Week, led UT in rebounding for the second time this season, grabbing 10. Her double-double was her third of the season and 21st of her career.

Tennessee State (1-1) was led by Taylor Roberts with 12 points, followed by Deaja Richardson who logged 11.

Tennessee continued its dominance on the glass by out-rebounding Tennessee State, 60-38. The Lady Vols have now grabbed more rebounds than their opponents in all four contests so far this season. The Big Orange had 31 points from bench players and tallied 44 vs. TSU in the paint.

Sophomore Jazmine Massengill got UT on the scoreboard first, followed by a layup from freshman Tamari Key and a three-pointer from redshirt senior Lou Brown to quickly give Tennessee an early 7-2 lead with just over two minutes gone in the first quarter.

Tennessee led 14-10 at the end of the period, with nine players seeing action in the first 10 minutes. Kushkituah led Tennessee with four points and added three rebounds, while Davis paced the team in rebounds with four.

Freshman Jordan Horston scored the opening bucket in the second quarter, giving UT a 16-10 lead. The next five points were scored by Davis, who started a scoring streak for the Lady Vols. Burrell had back-to-back buckets, and Horston nailed a three-pointer and followed it with a fast break lay-in, extending UT's lead to nine with 2:57 remaining in the second frame. Davis scored four more points for the Lady Vols, and Kushkituah finished the first half with a lay-up, giving Tennessee a 35-22 lead at the end of the opening 20 minutes.

Horston and Davis both led the team with nine points apiece in the first half. Davis also topped the team in rebounds with six, while Horston collected a team-high two steals.

The Lady Vols also held TSU to a 21.6 shooting percentage in the first half, only allowing eight field goals. Offensively, UT shot at a 40.6 clip in the opening half and out-rebounded the Tigers, 33-16. UT used the opportunity to score nine points off second chances and 22 in the paint.

Brown opened up the second half with a corner three-pointer less than a minute into the quarter, beginning a run of six different UT players scoring in the period. Freshman Emily Saunders led the Lady Vols in scoring in the third stanza with back-to-back buckets less than two minutes in the frame.

After two made free throws by Massengill with 59 seconds left in the third quarter, UT had its then-largest lead of the game with a 25-point advantage at 51-26. Burrell also contributed by keeping busy on the boards, grabbing a team high of five rebounds in the period.

Tennessee went on a 10-0 run to open the fourth quarter, and five different Lady Vols contributed to a 13-6 scoring burst. The spurt gave UT its largest lead of the game at 64-33 after a three-pointer from Burrell with just under five minutes remaining in the game. Saunders also reached a career high of six points, scoring a layup with 2:37 left in the game.

The Big Orange had its best shooting percentage during the final frame, hitting 50 percent. Burrell was the lone player that shot from beyond the arc in the final 10 minutes and went 2-for-3. Massengill closed out the game with a jumper in the paint to account for the final score.

Up Next: The Lady Vols remain at home, hosting Stetson on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the annual Hoops For Hunger game. Fans donating two or more non-perishable food items to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank will receive a complimentary ticket. The contest will be streamed online via SECN+ and broadcast on the Lady Vol Network. Tickets are available at AllVols.com.

The Lady Vols are now 4-0 a statement win against No. 15 Notre Dame on Monday, while the Tigers are 1-1.

The Lady Vols are now 7-0 against Tennessee State.

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