Jan. 5, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. -- No. 5/5 Tennessee had dominating performances by Ariel Massengale and Isabelle Harrison and withstood a late surge by No. 19/18 Georgia to defeat the Lady Bulldogs, 85-70, for its first SEC victory of the season.
In the 61st meeting between the two teams, the Lady Vols (12-2, 1-1 SEC) played a strong inside game in the first half and built a 27-point lead in the second half before the Lady Bulldogs (12-3, 0-2 SEC) came storming back to make things interesting in the final two minutes.
With 7:20 remaining, a layup by Krista Donald sparked a 21-0 Georgia run that pulled the Lady Bulldogs to within six points. Georgia had pulled back from being down by as much as 27 points to trail by just six points, 76-70, with under two minutes left in the game. The run covered a span of 6:08 with Georgia attacking the paint and knocking down shots from all over.
Massengale set a new career high with 28 points on 8-of-14 shooting and a 10-of-10 effort from the stripe. Her previous career best was 20 points against North Carolina on Nov. 11. Harrison finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth-consecutive double-double and seventh on the season. She scored all 18 of her points in the first half. Simmons added 11 points and five rebounds.
The Lady Vols led by as much as 27 at both the 9:28 mark and the 7:39 mark.
A corner trey by Meighan Simmons with 12:52 left gave Tennessee a 25-point lead at 64-39. A layup and free throw a minute later gave Massengale her new career high in points.
Tennessee enjoyed a strong start in second half thanks to aggressive play by Massengale. She scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting during a 21-9 UT run in the first seven minutes out of the break that pushed the Lady Vols' lead to 61-37.
Harrison was an offensive force in the first half, scoring 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting with an 8-of-8 effort from the line. Her putback with 20 seconds left in the half gave Tennessee a 40-28 advantage going into the break.
In the first half, the Lady Vols shot 52 percent (11-of-21) from the field and 94 percent (16-of-17) from the free-throw line. Georgia shot just 35 percent (12-of-34) from the field and 60 percent (3-of-5) from the stripe.
After Tennessee held a small lead for most of the first 10 minutes of the game, Georgia's Tiara Griffin knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game at 14-14. Massengale and UGA's Erika Ford traded 3-pointers before Tennessee used an 8-0 run to build a 25-17 lead with 6:29 remaining in the first half.
Both teams opened with a bit of a rocky start as UT committed four turnovers and Georgia had three in the first three minutes of play. The Lady Vols attacked the paint early, going inside to Harrison and Mercedes Russell. A pair of free throws by Harrison just after the first media timeout gave UT a three-point advantage at 11-8.
Tennessee returns to Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9, to host Ole Miss at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on CSS.