Tennessee Floors It, Runs Over Lady'Backs

FAYETTEVILLE -- To put Sunday's game against Tennessee in auto racing terms, Arkansas was going to have get out quick and never let the foot off the pedal.

Didn't happen.

Instead, the No. 6 Lady Vols were the ones to stomp on the throttle early, building a 16-point lead midway through the first half on their way to an 84-71 win in front of a season-high crowd of 5,839 in Bud Walton Arena to complete a two-game season sweep.

The Lady Vols defeated Arkansas, 72-54, in Knoxville back on Jan. 13.

Tennessee (21-4, 11-1) got 30 points and 11 rebounds from 6-foot-2 senior forward Shyra Ely off the bench and held Arkansas to a 21.4 shooting percentage in the first half (6 of 28) to build a commanding 39-22 lead at intermission.

"There was a point in the first half where it looked like we were going to fold the tent," said Lady'Backs coach Susie Gardner. "There's been games like this, at Tennessee, at Baton Rouge (against LSU), the other night against Vanderbilt, where it was over with early.

"But we kept fighting. This was a positive."

Arkansas (15-10, 3-9) did keep its fight on in the second half. After falling behind, 61-41, with 10:32 to play, the Lady'Backs used a 14-2 run to cut Tennessee's lead to 63-55 with 8:02 remaining.

"I was (surprised Arkansas came back), but I give them a lot of credit," said Lady Vols junior guard Shanna Zolman. "They play very, very hard. They were very aggressive and they overplayed the passing lanes and forced us into a lot of mistakes."

Thanks to their defense -- which forced 28 turnovers in the game -- the Lady'Backs did send their hometown crowd into quite a frenzy with the 14-2 run which momentarily put Tennessee on its heels. But the Lady Vols didn't panic, using a 12-4 spurt of their own over the next 4:51 on the clock to put the game away.

"It was hard to get into a rhythm. And I'm not criticizing the officials, but with all the fouls that were called, it was just hard to get into a rhythm," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. "I thought Arkansas did a good job of dribble penetration.

"All in all, in a game like this I'm just glad to come away with a win."

Ely was one point away from matching a career high. The Lady Vols' season scoring leader -- who entered the game averaging 13.0 points per game -- had an answer for everything Arkansas threw her way.

"I think the guards did a good job looking for us in the post," Ely said. "We knew Arkansas was going to be doubling in the post and Nicki (Anosike) did a good job at getting me the ball."

After hitting just 6 of 28 shots from the floor in the first half, Arkansas was much better after the intermission, connection on 18 of 32 (56.3 percent) in the second half. But by then, it was too late.

"Digging yourself in a hole is what it is," said Arkansas sophomore forward Sarah Pfeifer. "I think it's more emotionally draining than physically draining.

"But again, not to brag about this, but we've been in this position before. We know what it's like to play from behind. If Tennessee were the ones playing from behind, they might not have known how to handle the situation."

Pfeifer finished with 17 points for Arkansas while fellow sophomore Danielle Allen registered her third double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady'Backs.

Along with Ely's 30 points and 11 boards, Anosike added nine points and seven rebounds for Tennessee, which finished the game outrebounding Arkansas, 44-29.

The Lady'Backs are back at home Thursday when they play host to No. 1-ranked LSU (25-1, 12-0) at 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.

Tennessee hosts Mississippi State on Thursday.

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