Nashville, TN – Graduate Alexus Dye put up a game-high 26 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a Kentucky team that hit six first-quarter treys as No. 18/15 Tennessee women’s basketball team fell Saturday night in the semifinals of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena, 83-74.
Dye managed her second straight double-double with a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Rae Burrell also was in double figures for third-seeded Tennessee (23-8) with 16 points on the day.
Rhyne Howard led sixth-seeded Kentucky (18-11) in scoring with 24 points, while Robyn Benton and Jada Walker each turned in 16.
Burrell knocked down a short jumper on the first play of the second quarter, and the teams traded baskets during the next minute and a half until Burrell and Dye combined for five points on back-to-back plays to pull UT within four with 7:31 left in the half.
Two minutes later a turnaround jumper in the paint by Karoline Striplin cut the deficit to three at 31-28. That margin would hold until Benton hit a trey to put Kentucky up by six at the 3:09 mark, but Tennessee responded with two quick baskets by Striplin and Brooklynn Miles to creep within two a minute later. Kentucky finished the half strong, closing it out with a 9-3 run to lead 44-37 at intermission.
Dye hit a free throw to start the second half, and UT steadily chipped away at the lead, pulling within three by the 7:27 mark off a 3-pointer by Burrell. The Tennessee Lady Vols narrowed it to one 30 seconds later when Dye hit a jumper in the paint, but a 10-2 run gave the Wildcats a 56-47 lead with four minutes to go in the third. The teams traded buckets through the end of the period, with UK taking a 61-53 lead into the fourth.
The first points of the final quarter came from a pair of Howard free throws, but Tennessee responded with an 8-0 run capped off by a 10-foot jumper by Jordan Walker that had UT back within two a minute and a half into the period. Treasure Hunt answered with a three for the Wildcats to shift the momentum back in UK’s favor, as they went on to lead by 10 with 4:37 left in the contest.
Tennessee continued to fight, putting up six quick points to pull within four 40 seconds later, but that was as close as the UT Lady Vols would get. Howard and Walker combined for 10 points over the closing minutes, securing the 83-74 win for UK.
Key Is Queen
Tamari Key took sole possession of Tennessee’s single-season blocks record, swatting two shots against Kentucky to move her season total to 115. She trails Candace Parker (275), UT’s leader in career blocks, by only two.
Have A Day, Dye
Graduate Alexus Dye put up a season-high 26 points against UK while grabbing 10 boards to turn in her second straight double-double.
Graduate Jordan Walker doled out a career-high 10 assists against the Wildcats. Her previous high of nine came at Western Michigan against Akron on January 25th, 2020. Prior to tonight, her high against an SEC opponent was seven, set against MSU on February 24th.
Dye Picking Up The Slack
In the five contests since Tennessee lost Jordan Horston, its leading rebounder, Dye has picked up her activity on the boards, averaging 10.0 rpg. over that stretch.
Next Up For UT Lady Vols Basketball
The Tennessee women’s basketball team will await the results of the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday, March 13th. The NCAA Tournament is set to start on Wednesday, March 16th.
Kentucky 83, Tennessee 74