Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Notre Dame traveled to Knoxville Thursday night for another ‘We Back Pat’ night in Thompson Boling Arena, as the Lady Vols and Lady Irish honored the late legendary head coach, Pat Summitt.
The Lady Vols, coming off one of the worst starts in SEC play dropping five straight games, opened Thursday’s contest strong on defense, holding the Notre Dame offense without a three pointer in the first half.
The strong defensive push wasn’t enough as the Vols fell to the Fighting Lady Irish 77-62, marking the 6th straight loss for the program.
The Fighting Lady Irish of Notre Dame showed why they’re #1 in the nation with a strong push in the second half lead by Guard Arike Ogunbowale with 28 points.
Notre Dame trailed 38-32 early in the third quarter before Ogunbowale scored seven points in an 11-0 run. Tennessee rallied to tie it at 44, but Ogunbowale scored 11 more points in a 19-2 spurt by Notre Dame that extended its lead to 63-46 with 6½ minutes remaining.
The Irish scored 13 straight points during that 19-2 stretch.
Tennessee's Zaay Green scored a career-high 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. Evina Westbrook scored 16. When asked about Tennessee's early charge Green said, ”I think we really flipped the switch regardless of who we were playing that we really wanted to win we wanted to just get it together and get a win.”
Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner each scored 13 points for Notre Dame. Shepard also had 11 rebounds.
Tennessee was playing without starting guard Meme Jackson, who hurt her ankle Monday in a 80-79 loss to Arkansas.
Notre Dame beat Tennessee for the eighth time in the last nine attempts. Tennessee owned a 20-0 record against the Irish before this stretch.
Despite the loss, coach Holly Warlick was proud of her team's effort saying, ”You can make a mistake and your effort can cover up for a lot of things and I thought they’re effort was solid and I’ll continue to say that talent doesn’t mean a lot if you don’t have the heart, the effort the grit and I thought we had that tonight.”
WE BACK PAT
This game was part of the We Back Pat Week initiative to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease in honor of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who died in June 2016 at the age of 64. Both Tennessee and Notre Dame wore We Back Pat T-shirts during pregame warmups.
A check for a $500,000 annual grant to the University of Tennessee Medical Center's Pat Summitt Clinic was presented at the end of the first quarter. The clinic is dedicated to the fight against Alzheimer's.
The Lady Vols host LSU on Sunday at 1:00pm on SEC Network.