KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Georgia was about to make it a perfect sweep against the Lady Vols on Sunday.
Tennessee was unable to rally late, falling 57-55.
The last time these two teams met was in Knoxville with Georgia erasing a double-digit deficit to hand Tennessee its first SEC loss on the season and the Bulldogs’ first win in Knoxville since 1996.
This time around, Tennessee found themselves having to dig out of a hole.
It was a slow start for the Lady Vols at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday.
Following a 24-point second half against No. 2 South Carolina, Rennia Davis opened scoring for the Tennessee with a layup to give the orange and white an early 2-0 advantage.
But that would only be one of four field goals made in the first half.
Tennessee could not get their shots to fall and went scoreless for an 8-minute stretch until Davis knocked one down with 90 seconds left in the opening period to make it an 11-6 game.
Tennessee went 6-6 from the charity stripe to keep them in the first quarter trailing by four points, 14-10 after the first quarter.
Davis opened scoring again for Tennessee in the second quarter to make it a three-point game but Georgia’s balanced attack kept them in the lead with Tennessee unable to take control.
Tennessee shot a mere 12% from the field and could not make one from beyond the perimeter with majority of UT’s points coming from free throws, 11-14.
Davis kept the Lady Vols in the game in the first 20 minutes of play with 12 points, but Tennessee’s poor shooting sent them to the locker rooms down 27-19—the program’s lowest point total of the season at the half.
The Lady Vols started to wake up on offense in the third quarter, making three straight field goals to make it 31-25.
Despite Tennessee shooting 47% from the field and scoring 12 points in the paint, the Lady Vols could not stop Georgia’s Gabby Connally who commanded the floor. Connally scored 16 of the Bulldog’s 20 third quarter points to give them the advantage 47-39 heading into the final ten minutes of play.
Rennia Davis drained a shot from beyond the perimeter to cap off a 9-0 run for the Lady Vols to make it a one-point game, 47-46 with 7:27 left in play, but Connally answered with one of her own to keep the Bulldogs out in front.
The Lady Vols continued to battle back, with the game coming down to the wire.
Rae Burrell drew the foul with 22 seconds left on the clock, nailing two free throws to make it a one-point game, 56-55. But Tamar Key picked up her own foul, sending Connally to the charity stripe where she knocked down one to make the score 57-55.
Kellie Harper called a timeout.
With 12 seconds left in play, Davis had a chance to take a shot under the basket and tie it but turned the ball over on a pass giving the ball back to the Bulldogs.
“Second to last play I had a drive, I saw my post player open and we just fumbled the pass,” said Davis.
“I thought Rennia had the opportunity one the first of the two [offensive possessions] to maybe pull up and shoot a jumper,” said head coach Kellie Harper. “I thought she was open and maybe took it a dribble too far and ended up making the pass.”
Davis paid the favor right back stealing the ball with ten seconds in the game and tried to make one from beyond the arc to win the game but the shot falls short—sending Tennessee home with a loss, 57-55.
“The last play we were looking for what I got. I thought I got fouled but it wasn’t called and we had to try and play it out,” said Davis.
“The last one [offensive possession] I don’t know if our spacing was great on that play,” said Harper. “I think we actually executed the play ok just don’t know if the spacing was right.”
Davis ended with 22 points and six rebounds. Rae Burrell has 10 points. Kasi Kushkituah lead the team in rebounding with 13.
Georgia’s sweep over the orange and white marks its first since the 1984-85 season.
Tennessee now drops to 13-6 on the season, and 7-4 in SEC play.
“Just disappointed in the mistakes. I thought we had lack of focus,” said Harper.
Up Next: Tennessee will look to rebound against Missouri in a road contest on Thursday, February 25. Tip-off is set for 7 P.M. The team only has three more games left of the regular season before the SEC tournament.