Lady Vols slips past LSU keeping NCAA Tourney hopes alive
GREENVILLE, S.C. (UTsports.com) – Sophomores Evina Westbrook and Rennia Davis combined for 27 second-half points to rally eighth-seeded Tennessee to a 69-66 win over ninth-seeded LSU in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday.
Westbrook led UT in scoring with 20 points while Davis was close behind with 19. Freshman Mimi Collins tallied 10 points in the game, eight of which came in the second half.
LSU was led by Khayla Pointer, who had 21 points and five assists. Faustine Aifuwa and Ayana Mitchell were also in double figures for the Lady Tigers with 16 each.
The Lady Vols got off to a shaky start, turning the ball over on the first two possessions while the Lady Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Mimi Collinsknocked down a 12-foot jumper on the baseline to get UT on board at the 8:36 mark. LSU went on to pull ahead 11-6, but Westbrook tied the game at 11-all with a baseline three at the 3:22 mark, and Meme Jackson knocked down a contested jumper to give the Lady Vols their first lead of the game at 13-11. Westbrook struck again just before the quarter break to put UT up 15-14 at the end of the first.
The teams traded buckets to start the second period until Pointer came up with a steal and score to put LSU ahead 20-19 at the 7:33 mark. Davis answered on the next possession, driving into the lane to put Tennessee back up 21-20. Back-to-back threes put the Lady Tigers ahead 28-23 with 3:42 remaining in the half, but Meme Jackson answered on the other end, knocking down a three to cut the lead to two. LSU closed out the half with a 6-0 run to take a 35-28 lead into halftime.
Westbrook poured in six points in the opening minutes of the third stanza to put the Lady Vols within three by the 5:46 mark, and Cheridene Green cut the deficit to one on the next possession with a rebound and put-back. The Lady Tigers stretched the lead back to five, but Westbrook answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to pull Tennessee within two at the 2:13 mark. Mimi Collins got off a shot from behind the arc as the buzzer sounded that would have put the Lady Vols up by one, but it rimmed out, sending UT into the final period down 49-47.
Westbrook and Davis combined for UT's first six points of the fourth quarter before Davis found Collins in transition. The freshman forward laid the ball in to give Tennessee its first lead of the half at 55-53. Aifuwa tied it up for LSU, but Collins once again answered, knocking down a long-range baseline jumper to put UT back on top, 57-55, at the media timeout. Davis knocked down two free throws after the timeout and followed it up with a trey to put Tennessee up 62-57 with just under three minutes left in the game. Mitchell cut it to two with 50 second to play, banking in a short jumper in the paint, but Westbrook responded on the other end, driving to the bucket to boost UT's lead back to four. LSU would hit two more field goals, but Tennessee worked down the clock shooting free throws to take a 69-66 victory and advance to the third round of the SEC Tournament.
Up Next: The Lady Vols advanced to the third round of the SEC Tournament, where they will face Mississippi State at noon on Friday in a game televised by the SEC Network.
Cleaning The Glass: The Lady Vols out-rebounded the Lady Tigers 31-28. They have now out-rebounded 25 of 30 opponents on the season by an average of 43.4 rpg. to 34.2 rpg.
20+ Westbrook: With 20 points against LSU, Evina Westbrook recorded her 10th 20+ performance of the season and first since knocking down 24 against Arkansas on Jan. 21.
Collins Coming On Strong: Mimi Collins recorded her seventh double-digit effort of the season with 10 points against LSU. Over the last three games she is averaging 11 ppg., raising her season average to 5.3 ppg. Prior to the last three games she was averaging just 4.6 ppg.