Lady Vols Claim Senior Night Victory Over Texas A&M, 75-66

  • Friday, March 1, 2024
Lady Vols Cruise To Win On Senior Night
Lady Vols Cruise To Win On Senior Night
Five seniors were recognized in Senior Night festivities prior to Thursday's contest, and all five contributed significantly as Tennessee won its final regular season home game of the season, 75-66, over Texas A&M at Food City Center.
 
The Lady Vols (17-10, 10-5 SEC), who had fallen to the Aggies, 71-56, in College Station on Jan. 14, earned some closure over that setback and secured another solid NET win in the process over A&M (18-10, 6-9 SEC), which came in ranked No.
39.
 
Forward Rickea Jackson led the Lady Vols with her eighth 20+ scoring effort of the campaign, connecting on nine of 14 shots from the field and eight of nine from the free throw line to finish with a game-high 27 points. Jewel Spear enjoyed a 6-of-10 evening from the field, including 2-of-5 from long range, to net 16 points. Tamari Key chipped in nine points and seven rebounds, eclipsing 1,000 career points in the process, Tess Darby tallied seven points and six rebounds and Jasmine Powell dished out a game-high six assists.
 
Texas A&M was paced by Solé Williams, who tossed in 20 points. Janiah Barker and Sahara Jones also were in double figures with 12 and 10, respectively.
 
After the Aggies struck first in the game on a Barker three-pointer, the Lady Vols responded with a pair of Jackson free throws and a trey from Spear to take a 5-3 lead by the 8:12 mark. A Darby three and consecutive buckets by Spear pushed the UT advantage to five, 12-7, with 5:15 to go in the first period.  After a Barker jumper, the Big Orange put together an 8-0 run, ignited by a Jillian Hollingshead jumper and aided by layups from Darby, Karoline Striplin and Jackson to surge ahead 20-11 with 1:56 remaining in the opening stanza. Texas A&M ended the spree and scored twice before Striplin countered with a three to end the scoring, giving her team a 23-15 cushion after one.
 
The Aggies put points on the board first again in the second frame on an Aicha Coulibaly steal and layup, but Sarah Puckett quickly responded with a three to make it 26-17 Lady Vols with 8:00 left in the quarter. After Tineya Hylton drained a three for A&M, Jackson knocked down a pair of charity tosses and Key worked inside for a layup to provide UT its largest lead, 30-20, with 7:13 to go. Texas A&M chipped away at the lead and closed within three, 32-29, with 2:29 left on a Williams jumper, but a Jillian Hollingshead free throw and Spear three pushed the lead back to 36-29 with 42 seconds left. She and her teammates would take that score into the locker room at the half.
 
Jackson christened the second half with a long ball to boost the lead back to 10, 39-29. A Key layup and Jackson free throw followed to extend the advantage to 11, 42-31, at the 8:12 mark. Puckett then pocketed a corner three and Darby deposited a pair of free throws out of the third quarter media timeout to build UT's largest lead at 47-34 at the 6:16 mark. The Aggies wouldn't go away, whittling the gap to four, 49-45, with 3:32 left. Jackson and Spear, though, went to work to stem the tide. Jackson, who registered 13 points in the period, scored five straight on a pair of layups and a free throw to rebuild the lead to nine, 54-45, with 2:21 remaining. Jackson and Spear then combined for five more charity tosses to send Tennessee into the fourth with a 60-49 lead.
 
The Lady Vols took control at the outset of the final period, moving ahead 66-49 with 6:41 to go courtesy of a six-point barrage via a jumper by Jackson, a driving layup by Spear and a turnaround jumper by Key.  A layup by Kaiya Wynn and yet another Jackson layup helped Tennessee build its biggest lead, 70-52, with 5:41 left. Texas A&M kept scrapping, however, reeling off nine straight points and trimming UT's lead to 70-61 on a Jones layup with 2:42 left on the clock. A Key free throw and layups by Jackson and Key, though, ballooned the Lady Vols' lead back to 14 by the 1:36 mark. The Aggies continued to apply pressure down the stretch but could get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
 
UP NEXT: Tennessee closes out the regular season on the road on Sunday, making its way to Columbia to face No. 1/1 South Carolina for the second time this season. The Lady Vols and Gamecocks will meet at noon at Colonial Life Arena, just two weeks after USC prevailed in Knoxville, 66-55, in a contest that featured 14 lead changes and 11 ties. Sunday's game will be televised by ESPN and carried on Lady Vol Network stations statewide and via live stream on UTSports.com.
 
TK HITS 1,000 - With nine points vs. Texas A&M, Tamari Key (1,004 pts.) eclipsed 1,000 career points, becoming the 50th Lady Vol all-time to score that many for the Big Orange. She also became the fifth player on this year's roster to personally reach 1,000 points, whether all at UT or with another program. That ties a program best also set by last year's squad for most 1K scorers on the same squad.
 
CAN'T STOP KEA: With 27 points vs. the Aggies, Rickea Jackson notched her eighth 20+ point contest this season and 24th in two seasons on Rocky Top, surpassing Rennia Davis to take sole possession of fifth on Tennessee's career list for most 20-point games.
 
JACKSON RISES ON UT'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST: Rickea Jackson moved her career point total to 2,121 between her time at Mississippi State and Tennessee. With that sum, she moved past Tamika Catchings (2,113, 1997-2001) into sixth place among all-time Lady Vols, including transfers. Jackson stands 16 points shy of catching fifth-place Candace Parker (2,137, 2005-08).
 
TESS MOVING UP: Hitting one three-pointer vs. the Aggies, Tess Darby is now tied for fifth place with Ariel Massengale on Tennessee's career three-pointers list with 164. The senior has led UT in three pointers in a game on seven occasions in 2023-24, and she has hit a trey in 18 different games this season.
 
JEWEL SHOWS OUT VS. THE AGGIES: Jewel Spear posted a stat-stuffing effort against Texas A&M, recording 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal. Her 16 points marked her 17th game with double-digit scoring this season. She had a game-best two treys, notching her 13th contest leading the Lady Vols from deep and now has a team-high 53 in 2023-24.
 
REBOUNDING SUCCESS CONTINUES: The Lady Vols posted an impressive performance on the glass, out-rebounding Texas A&M 44-28. Tennessee ranks No. 10 nationally and fourth in the SEC in rebounds per game (43.62) through Feb. 26. UT is 16-1 in games when they out-perform their foes on the boards.
 
GETTING JAZZY WITH IT: Jasmine Powell led all players with six assists on Thursday night, upping her season total to 111. In her third straight year with more than 100 dimes delivered, Powell is just five away from tallying the best season total in her career. She is averaging 4.3 assists in all games and 5.1 in SEC contests in 2023-24.

CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU AGAIN, LADY VOL NATION: The Lady Vols finished with a season attendance average of 8,880 fans per game, giving the program its highest number since averaging 9,184 during the 2016-17 campaign. Tennessee registered an 11-4 record at home during the 2023-24 regular season, including a 6-2 mark in conference play.
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