The Tennessee offense, which had been dormant before the run, exploded to make 13 of its next 18 shots and make what had been a close game into a double-digit Lady Vol advantage. Ole Miss was unable to respond, failing to cut the lead to single digits the rest of the way.
Carla Bartee led the Lady Rebels in scoring with 14 points on 4 of 18 shooting, while Danetra Forrest poured in 13 points and 6 rebounds. Shawn Goff led Ole Miss in rebounding with 8 boards but had to leave midway through the second half because of foul trouble. Ole Miss's preseason All-America candidate Armintie Price added 10 points and 6 rebounds for the Lady Rebels.
"We always go out there to win, and we're disappointed when we don't," said third-year head coach Carol Ross. "You have to give Tennessee credit for doing what good teams do. When they made their run, they really toughened up on the defensive end, and we didn't respond."
"We're a hell of a 20-minute team in a hell of a 40-minute league," Ross added. "We had a good game plan, but we didn't execute it for 40 minutes. We had them under control defensively in the first half. Then we lost control in the middle of our defense – and that's really the heart of a defense – and when that happens, you lose control everywhere. We just have to play well in the paint for 40 minutes. We did it in December a few times, but we really haven't done it since."
Shanna Zolmann and Sidney Spencer each scored 18 points to lead the Lady Volunteers. Tye'sha Fluker and Alexis Hornbuckle added 12 points and 10 points, respectively, to round out Tennessee's double-digit scorers. Ole Miss's defense held forward Candace Parker to a season-low 7 points.
The Lady Volunteers grabbed a quick 4-0 lead on back-to-back buckets by Tye'sha Fluker before the Lady Rebels got on track. Ole Miss tied the game 5-5 on Danetra Forest's putback layup, and the two teams battled through four ties and five lead changes in the middle of the first half.
Tennessee's Sidney Spencer and Alex Fuller hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Lady Vols up 19-15 with 8:41 left in the first half, but the Lady Rebels responded with a 12-0 run over the next four minutes that featured back-to-back 3s by Carla Bartee, a run-through steal and layup by Armintie Price, and two layups by Jada Mincy and Ashley Awkward.
Nursing a 27-19 lead with five minutes left in the first half, the Lady Rebs couldn't stop a 7-1 run by the Lady Vols to cut the lead to 28-26 at the break.
Ole Miss opened the second half with a bang as Carla Bartee drained a 3-pointer to give the Lady Rebels a five-point advantage.
The two teams battled in the opening minutes of the second half, but Ole Miss managed to hold onto its lead until the 12-minute mark. That's when things started to go south for the Lady Rebs.
Tennessee's shooting, which had been kept in check all game at below 40 percent, finally started heating up.
With 11:28 left in the game and trailing 46-41 after two Jada Mincy free throws, the Lady Vols made a sustained run. Back-to-back 3-point plays by Sidney Spencer and Candace Parker gave Tennessee its first lead since the 7:24 mark in the first half at 47-46. The Lady Vols kept the heat on as Spencer's and Zollman's 3-pointers capped a 20-5 run and extended the Tennessee advantage to 61-51. Ole Miss was unable to cut it any closer, finally succumbing 78-63.
After shooting 35 percent in the first half on 10 of 29 shooting, Tennessee made 16 of its 26 shots in the second half for a 62-percent clip.
With the loss, Ole Miss falls to 12-9 (2-6) and 0-5 at home in the SEC. The Lady Rebels next travel to Baton Rouge Sunday to take on the No. 4 LSU Lady Tigers, the SEC's only remaining undefeated team in conference play. Tennessee, meanwhile, avoids losing its third straight game on the road and improves to 20-2 (6-1) on the season.
Ole Miss falls to No. 5 Lady Vols
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