Troy falls 103-64 to No. 3 Lady Vols
Troy didn't possess nearly enough size to have much of a chance against No. 3 Tennessee.
Tennessee utilized a prohibitive height advantage Saturday to post its second-highest rebound total in school history while breezing to a 103-64 victory over Troy. Six of Tennessee's 10 players are listed as 6-foot-2 or taller. Troy (4-5) has nobody taller than 6-1.
The Lady Vols (9-0) outrebounded Troy 74-29 and were only two rebounds away from a school single-game record that has stood for over a quarter-century. Tennessee pulled down 76 rebounds in a 104-51 rout of Tennessee State on Feb. 27, 1988.
''Honestly that's something we struggle with,'' Troy coach Chanda Rigby said. ''As you can see, we don't have a lot of size on our team. We try to make it an emphasis rebounding, especially since we like to push the ball up the court so much and take the first shot, not the best shot. We know we need good rebounder, so we need to keep recruiting to that and keep working on that.''
Three Lady Vols posted double-doubles as Tennessee had more offensive rebounds (32) than Troy had total rebounds.
Isabelle Harrison had 13 points and 12 rebounds despite sitting out most of the second half. Nia Moore had 10 points and 13 rebounds, career highs in both categories. Cierra Burdick scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Moore is the twin sister of Annaya Moore, a member of Troy's team last season who was unable to play because of a foot injury that eventually ended her career. Annaya Moore has since transferred to Tennessee and works as the Lady Vols' equipment manager.
Ashley Beverly-Kelley scored 22 points and Joanna Harden added 14 for Troy.
Rigby said she scheduled this game to see where her team stood before it began Sun Belt Conference play.
''We got out of this what we wanted,'' Rigby said. ''Of course we would have loved to win, but I think the team competed. We learned how to make passes over longer arms, block out harder if we really wanted a rebound, and run faster back if you wanted to defend the fastbreak. It was a good day for Troy in that I believe we learned some lessons and got better.''
This game also gave one of the nation's most prolific scorers a chance to match up against an elite program.
Harden entered Saturday averaging 26.6 points per game to rank third among all Division I players. Harden was coming off a 43-point performance in a 94-86 victory over Evansville on Sunday, but the 5-foot-7 guard struggled against the Lady Vols. She shot 1 of 10 in the first half and didn't score until 8:11 remained until halftime.
Tennessee's Jasmine Jones and Andraya Carter took turns guarding Harden in the first half.
''It felt like every time I got past the first man, I had another man to get past,'' Harden said. ''They played some tough defense.''
Troy's problems began before the opening tip.
The Trojans received a technical foul before the game when they didn't provide their starting lineup in enough time. Tennessee's Ariel Massengale made one of two free throws to give the Lady Vols a 1-0 lead before the two teams tipped off.
Tennessee stayed in front the rest of the way.
The Lady Vols raced to a 15-2 advantage in the first 5 1/2 minutes and extended the lead once they stopped shooting 3-pointers and focused on utilizing their height advantage. Tennessee didn't attempt a 3-pointer in the second half after going 2 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
''It didn't take an intelligent person to decide if you're 2 for 12, you need to stop shooting the 3,'' Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. ''I thought we needed paint points. I said if you shoot a 3-point shot, you're coming out. They valued playing more than shooting the 3.''
Troy was seeking its first win over a ranked foe in 19 attempts and its first victory over an SEC foe since beating Mississippi State on Nov. 18, 1997. Troy had never faced anyone ranked as high as third before Saturday.