No. 14 Tennessee (23-6, 11-5 SEC) defeated No. 6 South Carolina (23-6, 12-4 SEC), 65-46, to close out the regular season on Senior Day.
Sunday’s game was the 56th all-time meeting in the series, with Tennessee leading, 50-6.
Seniors Kortney Dunbar, Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell combined for 25 points as the Lady Vols outscored South Carolina in the second half 44-20 after being down 28-21 at halftime.
“They came out ready to attack in the third quarter,” South Carolina guard Tyasha Harris said postgame. Tennessee outrebounded the Gamecocks 46-31 and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said that “live ball turnovers and not rebounding” was something that they could not overcome in the second half.
“We really came out in the third quarter and really jumped on them,” Russell said of the second half performance. “We are getting better with our press the last few games and forcing turnovers.”
“It gives us a spark and we are giving a lot of energy to press full court,” Tennessee guard Meme Jackson said of the Lady Vols’ 21 forced turnovers. “Coaches told us to control the tempo in the second half and that helped.”
“I’m really excited about this basketball team,” Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick said following the win and awaiting the SEC tournament. “I’m excited for these seniors to win at home and leave on a high note.”
Warlick said that “we made some adjustments and our defense got going” and that her “players love the press and they attacked it with Jaime Nared causing a lot of that momentum to go our way.”
The Lady Vols will play Auburn in the SEC tournament in Nashville on Thursday. If Tennesse defeats Auburn they will face South Carolina again in the next round.