Morgantown, WV – Junior Rae Burrell and sophomore Jordan Horston combined for 17 fourth-quarter points, but it wasn’t enough to give the Tennessee Women’s Basketball team the win as the Lady Vols suffered their first loss of the season, falling to West Virginia Mountaineers on the road, 79-73.
Burrell was Tennessee’s (2-1) high scorer with 18 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter and included a 7-of-8 effort at the free-throw line. Horston and Keyen Green were also in double figures, notching 13 and 12, respectively.
West Virginia (4-0) was led by Kysre Gondrezick with 27 points and five assists. Madisen Smith also had a good outing, tallying 16 points and six assists.
The Lady Vols got off to a slow start, with WVU jumping out to a 3-0 advantage before Marta Suárez converted on a layup to put UT on the board just under two minutes into the game.
The Mountaineers built their lead to 10-4 before Burrell scored on back-to-back possessions to make the score 10-9 by the media timeout. Tennessee trailed by six with just over a minute left in the quarter, but Kasiyahna Kushkituah scored on back-to-back plays, including a put-back at the buzzer, to send UT into the second period down 17-15.
Smith was the first to score in the second stanza, knocking down a trey to put West Virginia up 20-15. Suárez answered on the other end, and Burrell followed it up with a steal and the score to pull Tennessee within one. Burrell followed it up with a three on the next possession to give UT its first lead of the game at 22-20 just under two minutes into the period. Green hit a jumper to extend UT’s run to 9-0 and give the Big Orange a four-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the half.
The Mountaineers tied it back up at 26 at the 4:05 mark off a Kari Niblack layup, but Rennia Davis answered on the other end to put Tennessee back out front. Gondrezick gave West Virginia a spark with 3:09 to go, scoring on a fast break and converting on an old fashioned three-point play to reclaim the lead and set off a 9-4 run that put West Virginia ahead 35-32 at the half.
Green hit the first bucket of the second half to pull UT within one, but Gondrezick answered with a layup, and West Virginia went on to lead by six points three minutes into the third quarter. Tennessee rallied back with Suárez and Horston knocking down jumpers to pull the Lady Vols within two at 40-42 by the 5:17 mark.
UT hit a scoring slump following the media timeout, and the Mountaineers built their lead to seven with three minutes to go in the quarter. Green converted on a three-point play to break the West Virginia scoring run, and Burrell followed it up with a fast break layup to pull the Lady Vols within two at 47-45 with 1:54 on the clock. West Virginia rallied back, building its lead back up to six and taking a 51-46 lead into the final stanza.
Tamari Key was first to strike in the fourth, hitting a layup to pull UT within four. Esmery Martinez answered with a layup of her own on the other end before Horston and Burrell combined to bring the Lady Vols within one point with eight minutes to play at 53-52. The Mountaineers jumped back out by five, but Green hit two free throws and Burrell put in a fast break layup to close the gap to one at 61-60 with 5:22 left in regulation.
Following the media timeout, Horston banked in a shot to give UT the lead. She followed it up a minute later with a layup and scored again at the 1:13 mark to give Tennessee its largest lead of the game at 66-61. Smith answered with a trey on the other end, and Kirsten Deans added a layup and drew a foul but failed to convert on the free throw, giving UT the ball back with 12 seconds remaining and the score tied at 66. However, neither team was able to score in the closing seconds, sending the game into overtime.
Green reclaimed the lead for the Lady Vols with a short jumper 40 seconds into extra time, but Gondrezick responded with a jumper of her own on the other end, setting off a 7-0 WVU run that put the hosts up 73-68 with 1:43 left to play. Suárez and Davis each added baskets in the closing seconds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit as Tennessee fell 79-73.
UT Lady Vols Notably
Big-Time Bench Points
Tennessee’s bench outscored the Mountaineers’ bench 23-4. Through three games, UT’s bench is averaging 25.7 points per game and is outscoring opponents’ benches 77-27.
Dominating the Paint
The Tennessee Lady Vols outscored WVU in the paint 36-22 and out-rebounded the Mountaineers 56-34. Tennessee has now out-rebounded opponents in all three contests for a margin of 156-97.
Rae Leading The Way
Junior Rae Burrell has led Tennessee in scoring in all three games this season, averaging 18.7 ppg., up from 10.5 ppg. during her sophomore campaign. She has scored in double figures in nine of 12 career starts dating back to last season and has had 15 or more points in seven of those.
Up Next for Tennessee Lady Vols
The Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team returns to Thompson-Boling Arena to host Furman on Thursday, December 10th, 2020. Tip time is 6:000pm CT and the game will be available for streaming on SECN+.