KNOXVILLE – The Tennessee Lady Vols beat Stanford last year on their home floor, so maybe it was poetic justice that the visitors from California returned the favor here at Thompson-Boling Arena Tuesday night.
Stanford was simply unbelievable from long range as they canned eight of their first 10 shots from beyond the arc. They finished the game by sinking 14 of 24 from that spot for 58.3 percent, which was better than their percentage from the rest of the floor.
To nobody’s surprise, Stanford prevailed by a 95-85 final as Tennessee suffered its first loss after eight straight wins. Tuesday's win was only Stanford's third in Knoxville while the Lady Vols have won 13 times at home.
Tennessee still holds a 25-11 edge in the overall series.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick really likes this team and the effort they normally bring to the gym on game day, but she didn’t like what she saw in her team’s latest outing.
“Give Stanford a lot of credit as they were tougher and more poised, but we lacked a sense of urgency and that hurt us tonight,” Warlick said following the game.
“We got beat at every position and simply didn’t play well. They shot the 3s really well, but they did a lot more than that. We didn’t go to the boards and it’s impossible to rebound when you don’t, but our defense and rebounding was just non-existent tonight.
“I liked that we only had eight turnovers, but that stat is nulled when you don’t defend the 3. Great things normally happen when you play hard. Tonight, for some reason, we didn’t,” Warlick added.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer was understandably pleased with the way her team performed. Nobody on her team was happy when they lost at Gonzaga on Dec. 2, but they played much better against the Lady Vols and they were rewarded for their effort.
“This is obviously a really big win for our team as it’s always a challenge to play well, much less win, in this arena. I thought we shot the ball extremely well, but we did a lot of other things well too,” she said after her team had improved to 8-1 overall.
“We have really good balance on offense, but obviously, Di had a great game,” she said in reference to leading scorer DeJonai Carrington, who had 19 points in the first half and finished with 33.
“I’ll take hitting 14 of 24 from long range any day of the week. Nobody felt good after that loss to Gonzaga, but I think we were able to correct some things after that game. Had we won there, we might have lost here tonight. We knew we had to have better effort and to just play harder overall. I think we were able to do that tonight,” she explained.
The Cardinal had a 22-17 lead after the first quarter as they never trailed in the first half. They sank nine of 15 shots from long range in the first half and had a 47-37 lead at the break.
The Lady Vols, who appeared to be a day late and a dollar short during most of the first two quarters, came out firing in the third quarter and led for the first time at 56-55 following an inside move by Mimi Collins with 5:20 left in the third.
Meme Jackson scored on a drive along the wing a minute later as Tennessee’s lead was 58-56, but Stanford quickly scored the next seven points for a 63-58 lead with 2:18 left in the third and the Lady Vols never got any closer than three points.
Carrington had 33 points to lead five Stanford players in double figures.
Alana Smith and Kiana Williams both had 16 while Lacie Hull finished with 14 and Maya Dodson with 10.
Westbrook tallied 29 points to lead the Lady Vols.
Jackson followed with 17 while Rennia Davis and Zaay Green both finished with 14 points.
With Carrington snagging 13 rebounds, Stanford easily won the battle of the boards by a 45-31 margin. Dodson had nine. Davis was tops for Tennessee with 10.
The Lady Vols return to action on Friday when they host East Tennessee State University while Stanford’s next game is Friday at Buffalo.
STANFORD 22 25 20 28 -- 95
TENNESSEE 17 20 25 23 -- 85
STANFORD (95) – Fingall 3, Smith 16, Hull 14, Carrington 33, Williams 16, Coffee, Jerome, Dodson 10, Brown 3.
TENNESSEE (85) – Davis 14, C. Green 6, Westbrook 29, Jackson 17, Z. Green 14, Collins 5, Harris, Kushkituah, Burrell, Massengill.
REBOUNDS: Stanford 45 (Carrington 13, Dodson 9); Tennessee 31 (Davis 10, Massengill 5);
FIELD GOALS: Stanford 33 of 60 for 55.0 percent; Tennessee 30 of 75 for 40.0 percent;
3-POINT GOALS : Stanford 14-24 for 58.3 percent (Smith 3-4, Hull 4-5, Carrington 4-5, Williams 3-7, Coffee 0-2, Brown 0-1); Tennessee 9 of 28 for 32.1 percent (Davis 2-5, Westbrook 2-5, Jackson 3-13, Z. Green 2-5);
ASSISTS: Stanford 19 (Williams 7), Tennessee 14 (Westbrook 10);
STEALS: Stanford 3 (Williams 2); Tennessee 8 (Davis 2, Westbrook 2);
TURNOVERS: Stanford 20 (Williams 6, Carrington 5); Tennessee 8 (Westbrook 4, Harris 2);
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)