Columbia, SC – Junior Tamari Key turned in a double-double with 10 points and 10 blocks and two other Lady Vols scored in double figures against No. 1/1 South Carolina, but despite a gutsy effort, No. 12/8 Tennessee women’s basketball team fell in Colonial Life Arena on Sunday, 67-53.
Senior Rae Burrell was the high scorer for UT (21-6, 10-4 SEC) with 14, and graduate Jordan Walker was also in double figures with 11 points.
South Carolina (25-1, 13-1 SEC) was led by Aliyah Boston with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Destanni Henderson and Brea Beal also added double-digit efforts with 12 and 11, respectively.
Zia Cooke added a layup on the next trip down the court to give the Gamecocks a two-point advantage, but Miles drove in for the layup to tie it up once again with 46 seconds to go in the first. South Carolina went back ahead in the closing seconds, adding a layup and a pair of free throws to make the score 17-13 at the end of the opening stanza.
Cooke opened the second period with a 3-pointer to stretch the Gamecocks’ lead to seven, but a layup by Burrell shrunk it back to five 30 seconds later. That margin would hold as the teams traded buckets until USC scored seven straight points to go up 30-19 with 4:30 to go in the half.
Tennessee responded by scoring four points on one possession with Key getting fouled on a made layup and Dye getting the rebound on a missed free throw and turning it into two made free throws of her own, whittling the deficit down to seven a minute later. Both teams struggled to score in the final three minutes, with the only points coming in the form of a pair of South Carolina free throws, settling the halftime score at 32-23.
USC was first to score in the second half, going up by 12. Tess Darby then hit a layup 45 seconds into play to set off a 7-0 Tennessee run that was capped off by an old-fashioned three-point play by Key to pull UT within five at 35-30. Six quick points by the Gamecocks had USC up by 11 at the 6:49 mark, but Walker and Burrell combined to fuel a 6-3 run that pulled the Lady Vols within eight by the media timeout.
Both teams were hot offensively following the timeout, scoring on every possession to move the score to 48-38 by the 2:46 mark. USC rallied, closing out the quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 57-40 lead into the final stanza.
Henderson knocked down a three to stretch South Carolina’s lead to 19 at the start of the fourth, but Tennessee scrapped back to cut it to 14 with 5:34 left in the game off buckets by Kaiya Wynn and Darby. The final five minutes were a back-and-forth affair, with Tennessee’s bench getting some playing time and the 14-point deficit holding for a final score of 67-53.
Key Making Moves
Tamari Key blocked 10 shots against the Gamecocks, moving her career total to 257 and season total to 99. She passes Sheila Frost to rank second all-time in career blocks at Tennessee, trailing Candace Parker by 18. She also moves into a tie for second place in the single-season records with Candace Parker (99) and creeps within 14 of No. 1 Kellie Cain. Key’s block total marked the seventh time during her career she has had seven or more.
Dey Picking Up The Slack
In the absence of UT’s leading rebounder, Jordan Horston, Alexus Dye pulled down a team-high 11 boards against USC, leading UT in rebounding for the fifth time this season and setting a new personal SEC high.
Next Up For UT Lady Vols Basketball
The Tennessee women’s basketball team returns home to host Mississippi State in a 5:30pm CT contest on Thursday. The game will be streamed on SECN+.
Tennessee 53, South Carolina 67