KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Junior Alexa Middleton shot lights out in No. 13/14 Tennessee's 85-55 win over Navy on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Middleton scored a career-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, including 6-of-7 from behind the arc. She added three rebounds and two assists. Redshirt junior Mercedes Russell record her 13th career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the game.
After a close first half, Tennessee (2-0) held the Mids (0-2) to only 20 points in the final 20 minutes of play in front of a home crowd of 8,212. As a team, UT shot 86 percent (12-of-14) from behind the three-point line to fuel the offense.
Ashanti Kennedy and Taylor Dunham led Navy during the game. Kennedy had 16 points, six rebounds and two steals. Dunham was six of eight from the floor with 14 points and three assists.
Tennessee struggled to get the offense going in the first quarter, shooting 32 percent (6-of-19) from the floor. Redshirt junior Diamond DeShields' seven points and two rebounds led the Lady Vols to a 19-16 advantage through one period. She finished with 14 points and six rebounds for the game.
The second stanza was a different story, as UT's offense heated up, dropping 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting (82 percent) from the field. Russell led all players in points (13) and rebounds (7) during the first half. The Lady Vols used a 16-9 run at the end of the half to take a 43-35 lead over Navy.
A 9-0 run during the third period helped Tennessee extend its lead to double digits. Senior Jordan Reynolds chipped in seven of her 12 points along with three assists during the quarter to give UT a 66-50 lead heading into the fourth.
A 15-point deficit and Tennessee's tight defense was too much for Navy to overcome in the final period. Outscoring the Mids, 19-5, UT cruised to its 17th consecutive win in a home opener.
The Lady Vols will travel to Johnson City on Tuesday to face East Tennessee State at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. ET and will feature an online-only broadcast through ESPN 3 on WatchESPN.
Connecting from Deep
Tennessee was 12 of 14 (85.7 percent) from behind the three-point line during the game.
It was the most three-point field goals made by UT since hitting 12 against Vanderbilt on March 1, 2015.
Middleton had a career high with 21 points and hit 6-of-7 from behind the arc, the most threes by a UT player since Ariel Massengale had a school-record eight against Vanderbilt two seasons ago in that Vandy game.
UT's 85.7 percent rate from beyond the arc tied the second highest three-point percentage in a game by a Tennessee team and was the highest percentage achieved in more than 10 attempts.
The last time the Lady Vols posted back-to-back double-figure games in three-point field goals made was during the 2011-12 season, when UT opened with 10 on Nov. 13, and 11 on Nov. 15 vs. Pepperdine and #7/7 Miami, respectively.
Defending Down the Stretch
Tennessee held Navy to only five points during the fourth quarter on 2-of-16 (13 percent) shooting, which is the second fewest points in a quarter allowed by the Lady Vols. The fewest was four against Georgia last season.
Navy connected on 13 3-pointers in their opener against Wake Forest. Their tallest player is six feet, so hitting from behind the arc is a key part of their game plan.
After hitting five 3-pointers in the first half, Tennessee's defense tightened up around the perimeter and held the Mids to just 1-of-9 during the second half.
In the first two games, the Lady Vols have scored 80-plus in both outings (81 vs. JMU, 85 vs. Navy).
Last season, Tennessee only eclipsed the 80-point margin four times.
The Lady Vols last surpassed 80 points in back-to-back games during the 2014-15 season, hitting 111 versus St. Francis on Dec. 3 and 85 versus Lipscomb on Dec. 7.