KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee’s Isabelle Harrison regained her shooting touch in front of her former coach.
Harrison scored 25 points – one off her career high – as the fifth-ranked Lady Volunteers breezed to a 75-58 victory over LSU on Thursday. Harrison shot 9 of 11 from the floor and made all seven of her free throws.
The 6-foot-3 senior center had shot 4 of 15 three nights earlier in an 88-77 loss at No. 6 Notre Dame, which ended Tennessee’s 11-game winning streak.
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”It’s good to see Izzy get back on track,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. ”I told a friend of mine today Izzy’s going to have a great game. … It was how she carried herself, how she was focused.”
Harrison bounced back on a night that honored former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt as part of the Southeastern Conference’s We Back Pat initiative, dedicated to supporting Summitt’s foundation in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Harrison is one of three Tennessee seniors who began their college careers by playing for Summitt, who stepped down after the 2011-12 season.
”I’m glad she was there tonight to witness it,” Harrison said.
Warlick and LSU coach Nikki Caldwell both played for Summitt at Tennessee and worked for her as Lady Vols assistants. The two coaches headed to the stands just before the opening tip and embraced Summitt and gave her flowers as the crowd chanted ”We Back Pat!”
”I wouldn’t be sitting here today without her,” Caldwell said. ”It’s always great to be able to come back home obviously and see a lot of familiar faces, but anytime I come back to Knoxville, she’s the one face I want to see. I’m glad I had the opportunity.”
Raigyne Moncrief and Danielle Ballard each scored 15 points for LSU (10-9, 4-3 SEC). Andraya Carter had 13 points for Tennessee (16-3, 6-0)
LSU entered having beaten No. 18 Mississippi State and No. 14 Kentucky in its last two games, with Ballard leading the way in each game. Mississippi State was ranked 15th and Kentucky was 10th at the time they met LSU.
But the Lady Tigers couldn’t come close to making it three straight. Tennessee shot 55.6 percent and never trailed all night.
”I thought we should have had more fight in us,” Caldwell said. ”I really feel as though we should have done a better job defensively.”
LSU: The Tigers played without senior guard DaShawn Harden, who hurt her eye Sunday in the victory over Kentucky. Harden is LSU’s most prolific 3-point shooter. Without Harden on the floor, LSU was 1 of 6 from 3-point range while Tennessee was 6 of 11. Caldwell said she was hopeful that Harden could return next week.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols still haven’t lost at home this season. They’ve won 15 straight home games overall since falling 75-71 to Kentucky on Feb. 16, 2014.
”Just the fight that (Summitt) had, the faith she had in us to recruit us when we were in high school, the faith that she had in Coach Holly to continue on the legacy of the Lady Vols, she’s just a fighter,” Carter said. ”She loves us. She trusts us. She’s just such a great example of what it means to be a Lady Vol — the fight, the encouraging to keep going. She does that for us. She’s how we need to be on and off the court. We need to exemplify what she’s shown us as a woman.”
Tennessee emphasized slowing down Ballard, who had scored 24 points against Mississippi State and 25 against Kentucky. Ballard also had 25 points in LSU’s 80-77 victory at Tennessee last season.
”We didn’t want her to get hot because when she gets going, she gains more and more confidence,” Carter said.