No. 16 Tennessee 88, Middle Tennessee 81
Bashaara Graves recorded a double-double and reserve guard
Kamiko Williams made several huge plays down the stretch Wednesday
night as No. 16 Tennessee erased an 11-point, second-half deficit
in an 88-81 overtime victory over Middle Tennessee.
Middle Tennessee (4-2) had forced overtime on Icelyn Elie’s
3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in regulation. Elie led all scorers
with 21 points.
The Blue Raiders were seeking their first victory over the Lady
Vols in 20 attempts and had lost 82-43 to Tennessee last year, but
their poor history in this rivalry certainly didn’t bother them for
most of the game.
After trailing all night, Tennessee finally took its first lead
at 64-63 when Williams got a steal and made a 10-footer with 4:26
left. Williams added a 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation
and made a steal and drew a charge in overtime.
Once the Blue Raiders tied the game at the end of regulation,
Tennessee used its depth to wear down a Middle Tennessee team that
barely substituted all night and was playing its third overtime
game of the season. Middle Tennessee’s Elie, Ebony Rowe and Korni
Jones each played all 45 minutes. Starting point guard Shanice
Cason also had played the entire game before fouling out in
Meghan Simmons scored 19 points for Tennessee (5-1). Graves
collected 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Ariel Massengale also
scored 15 points.
Rowe recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds for Middle Tennessee.
Laken Leonard added 17 points while shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point
range, and Cason tallied 13 points.
The contest was Middle Tennessee’s fourth in a five-game road
trip that will require the Blue Raiders to travel 5,000 miles.
Middle Tennessee had lost 69-63 at Iowa in overtime and had beaten
Tennessee Tech 65-59 in overtime and Louisiana-Lafayette 72-45 in
the three games leading up to this one. The Blue Raiders next play
Saturday at South Dakota State.
Tennessee will carry a five-game winning streak into the
toughest portion of its schedule. The Lady Vols host No. 22 North
Carolina on Sunday, then take two weeks off before playing at No.
13 Texas on Dec. 16 and at No. 3 Baylor on Dec. 18. Tennessee
returns home to face No. 1 Stanford on Dec. 22.