Lady Vols notch road win over Georgia

The Lady Vols claimed a 70-59 win over Georgia behind seniors Cierra Burdick and Ariel Massengale. Go inside with InsideTennessee for game analysis.

Tennessee (24-4, 14-1) rebounded in the SEC against Georgia (17-11, 5-10) and will close out the regular season Sunday against Vanderbilt on Senior Night in Knoxville.

Sunday will the third game this week – with 9 p.m. tips for the first two, both on the road – for a brutal close in a rugged conference.

The Lady Vols did enough to win against the Lady Bulldogs behind a combined 35 points from Cierra Burdick and Ariel Massengale, two of the seniors who will be honored Sunday. The third is Isabelle Harrison, whose season ended nearly two weeks ago with a torn ACL.

Burdick, who had Harrison’s No. 20 written on her hand against Georgia and has written tributes to her fellow senior on her shoes, has done her part to make up for the loss of the standout center.

Burdick notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Massengale added 17 points and five assists.

Massengale and Jordan Reynolds hit key shots late in the second half – Massengale on a drive and pull-up and Reynolds with the long ball – to give Tennessee a 63-55 lead after Georgia had trimmed the lead to four points.

“I thought Jordan’s three was huge,” Coach Holly Warlick said.

Additional scoring came from Andraya Carter with nine points, eight each from Reynolds and Nia Moore and seven points from Bashaara Graves, who added a matching seven rebounds.

“It was a good team effort,” Warlick said.

The Lady Vols scorched the nets at 54.3 percent (25-46) overall, and tallied 16 assists.

However, Georgia connected on eight three-pointers, although the Lady Bulldogs shot just 37.3 percent (22-59) overall.

“You can’t give up eight threes,” Warlick said. “Our defense wasn’t very solid.”

Of course, the Lady Vols shot 42.1 percent (8-19) from the arc to match the output.

“It was a wash,” Warlick joked.

While the 16 assists were noteworthy – and Massengale now needs just three for 500 in her career – so were the 16 turnovers.

“You can’t do that,” Warlick said.

Tennessee led 39-27 at halftime but was outscored 32-31 by Georgia in the second half.

“I think we got a little complacent, and that’s something we can’t do on the road in the SEC,” Massengale said.

Massengale played 36 minutes with no turnovers, while Carter, who was playing in her home state, went 33 minutes without a miscue.

“She does the intangibles, and we could not be as successful as we are without Andraya Carter,” Warlick said.

Massengale and the seniors are now 6-0 against Georgia, which tends to always play well against Tennessee in Athens.

“I have a lot of respect for Andy,” said Warlick, who noted Andy Landers also is dealing with a roster decimated by injuries. “He gets his team ready to play us.”

“It wasn’t easy tonight,” Massengale noted.

Tennessee departed Athens with a win because of the seniors with Burdick and Massengale shooting a combined 13-23 (56.5 percent) from the field.

“The two seniors propelled us to win,” Warlick said. “We just held on.”

On the road late at night late in the regular season, that is sufficient. Now, the Lady Vols will get ready for Vanderbilt (5 p.m. tip, SEC Network) and the senior sendoff against the last class to play for Pat Summitt. Massengale wasn’t ready to think about the regular season finale.

“I’ve tried not to, but everybody keeps talking about it,” Massengale said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s been a great four years.”

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