Friday, December 28, 2012

Tennessee 75, Davidson 40

Bashaara Graves and Cierra Burdick recorded double-doubles Friday as No. 13 Tennessee trounced Davidson 75-40 to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 1986.

Graves scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the fifth double-double of her freshman season despite resting for the game's final 10 minutes, 47 seconds. Burdick added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Isabelle Harrison played only 19 minutes, but she nearly gave the Lady Vols a third double-double before finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Tennessee (8-3) had fallen 76-53 at No. 3 Baylor and 73-60 to No. 1 Stanford in its last two games. The Lady Vols haven't dropped three straight games since losing 68-54 to No. 8 Mississippi, 66-60 to No. 11 Auburn and 59-56 to No. 3 Louisiana Tech on Feb. 5-10, 1986.

Sophia Aleksandravicius had 12 points and seven rebounds to lead Davidson (4-7) in both categories. Laura Murray added 11 points, but she shot just 4 of 15.

Graves and Harrison helped the Lady Vols dominate under the basket all night. Tennessee outrebounded Davidson 48-26 and outscored the Wildcats 22-0 in second-chance points. The Lady Vols also had a 26-5 edge in points off turnovers.

The victory over Davidson also allowed the Lady Vols to gain some revenge against the Southern Conference. Tennessee had opened the season with a stunning 80-71 road loss to Southern Conference member Chattanooga.

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick had criticized her team's effort after the Stanford game and responded Friday by overhauling her starting lineup. Graves and junior guard Meighan Simmons were the only starters from the Stanford game who remained in the starting lineup Friday.

Tennessee's new-look lineup featured three freshmen: Graves and forwards Jasmine Jones and Nia Moore. Jones and Moore were making their first career starts. The lineup also included senior guard/forward Taber Spani, making her third start of the season.

That combination wouldn't stay on the floor very long. Warlick returned to her usual starting five of Graves, Simmons, Burdick, Harrison and Ariel Massengale less than three minutes into the game with Davidson leading 7-5.

Tennessee took control of the game by going on a 12-0 run while holding Davidson scoreless for a stretch of nearly six minutes midway through the first half. That spurt turned an 11-11 tie into a 23-11 Tennessee lead, and the Lady Vols maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the night.

After leading 41-21 at the intermission, Tennessee opened the second half on a 9-0 run and remained in front by at least 25 points the remainder of the game.

Davidson has never beaten a Southeastern Conference team in 11 attempts.

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