Knoxville, TN – No. 16/14 Tennessee women’s basketball team closed out the game with a 13-1 run to pull within two in the closing seconds but came up just short, falling to No. 8/8 LSU in Thompson-Boling Arena, 57-54, on Senior Day.
Tennessee (22-7, 11-5 SEC) was led by junior Tamari Key, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Senior Rae Burrell and graduate Alexus Dye were also in double figures with 11 and 10, respectively.
Jailin Cherry was the top scorer for LSU (25-4, 13-3 SEC), posting a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Khayla Pointer and Autumn Newby were close behind with 12 points each.
The Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Tess Darby got UT on the board with an eight-foot jumper three and a half minutes into play. LSU stretched its lead to 10-2 before Dye and Burrell scored on back-to-back possessions to pull Tennessee within three at 10-7. Louisiana State rallied back, launching into a 12-2 run to lead 20-9 with 43 seconds left in the first. Jordan Walker hit the first of a pair of free throws before time ran out, making the score 22-10 at the end of one.
The Tigers picked up where they left off in the second, adding five points off buckets by Pointer and Cherry before Key added a point from the free-throw line and Walker followed it up with a trey on the next possession to shrink the deficit to 15 with 7:20 left in the half. Both teams struggled offensively over the next three minutes until a layup by Walker on the fast break ended the drought for UT. The teams traded buckets through the end of the period for a halftime score of 36-22.
Brooklynn Miles gave Tennessee some momentum to start the second half, picking off an LSU pass and scoring the first two points of an 8-4 run that pulled Tennessee within 10 three and a half minutes into the third. Key, who had 10 points in the third quarter, cut the deficit to single digits just before the buzzer with a pair of free throws, sending the game into the final stanza with UT trailing 44-36.
The Tigers opened the fourth with six straight points to lead by 14 before Dye hit a layup with 7:11 left in the game. LSU built its lead back up to 15, but Tennessee then switched to a full-court press, creating turnovers and turning them into eight unanswered points that moved the score to 56-49 with just over three minutes to play.
Walker hit a free throw at the 1:37 mark, and Kaiya Wynn followed it up with a fast-break layup on the next play to pull UT within four. Burrell continued the run with a layup with 33 seconds left in the game, and UT’s defense forced an LSU turnover to regain possession, but a bid to tie it up by Key missed just wide. Pointer hit a free throw with three seconds on the clock, and UT was unable to get a final shot off, falling 57-54.
Rowdy On Rocky Top
A season-high 11,613 fans attended Sunday’s contest against No. 8 LSU. It was the largest crowd at a Lady Vol game since February 16th, 2020, when 12,738 fans attended the match-up with Texas A&M. It was UT’s third home game this season with 10,000 or more fans in attendance.
With three blocked shots against LSU, Tamari Key moved into sixth on the SEC all-time single-season list with a total of 108. She pulls within five of Kelley Cain, UT’s single-season leader, who stands at 113.
Next Up For UT Lady Vols Basketball
The Tennessee women’s basketball team will enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 3 seed, earning a double-bye and playing on Friday, March 4th, 2022 at approximately 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT
LSU 57, Tennessee 54