No. 6 Tennessee topples Florida 64-56
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) With her team trailing Florida 30-28 at halftime, Tennessee coach Holly Warlick gave the Lady Vols a message.
It wasn't about the game of basketball itself, but rather about her team needing to display energy and heart.
The No. 6 Lady Vols responded to that message, turning their game around in the second half and defeating the Gators 64-56 on Sunday.
''Maybe I need to make my halftime speeches before the game starts,'' Warlick said.
Isabelle Harrison led Tennessee (20-3, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) with 17 points and Jordan Reynolds added 13 more to keep the Lady Vols undefeated in conference play and pick up their 16th win in the last 17 games.
Tennessee jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first seven minutes - with all of the Lady Vols' points coming from Harrison in the early run - before Florida (11-12, 3-7) clawed its way back, making nine of its final 17 first-half shots and 6-of-8 free throw attempts to take a 30-28 lead into intermission.
''Florida played hard,'' Warlick said. ''I'm shocked at their record. I just think they've got a solid team and they don't have quit in them.''
The Gators extended that lead to five on two separate occasions in the second half before Tennessee went on a 21-6 run over 8:17 to take a 10-point lead with about five minutes to play. Five different UT players scored on the run, with Cierra Burdick leading the way with six points.
Harrison saw limited action in the second half after picking up her third foul of the game less than two minutes after intermission.
But in Harrison's time off the court, Reynolds picked up her play, leading the Lady Vols with 10 second-half points.
''In the second half, we moved the ball much better,'' Reynolds said. ''It was easier for me to get to the basket because the floor was opened up more.''
Cassie People led the Gators with 18 points. Ronni Williams, who started in place of freshman forward Haley Lorenzen (concussion), added 11 and Kayla Lewis had 10.
''I loved our fight,'' Butler said. ''I loved how hard we fought and battled and played, especially one woman down.''
Tennessee point guard Ariel Massengale, who averaged 11 points per game heading into Sunday's matchup, failed to make a basket, missing all eight shots during her 28 minutes on the floor.
''She just didn't look very confident shooting,'' Warlick said.
LEWIS HITS 1,000 POINTS
Lewis became the 23rd Florida player in program history to score 1,000 career points after scoring 10 on Sunday.
A fifth-year guard, Lewis has been one of Florida's top scoring threats over the past three seasons.
But injuries plagued her career early. She missed 19 games in her freshman season and received a medical redshirt in her sophomore year after suffering a stress fracture three games into the season.
''I think I've been too hurt to even think that was a possibility,'' Lewis said.
Lewis credited her teammates for helping make plays where she can capitalize.
''I'm not a player that creates a lot off the dribble,'' Lewis said. ''We have a lot of great players like Cassie and Ronni and guys who have gotten the ball to me and rewarded me for running in transition.''
Tennessee: The Lady Vols have won 11 straight games against the Gators, dating back to March 6, 2009. ... Three of Tennessee's last four wins have been decided by 10 points or less.
Florida: The Gators used their 10th different starting lineup on Sunday. ... Florida is now 15-106 all-time against top-10 ranked opponents.
Tennessee: at Ole Miss on Thursday.
Florida: at Georgia on Thursday.