Friday, November 29, 2013

Junkanoo Jam: Lady Vols 87, SMU 47

Ariel Massengale paced No. 3/4 Tennessee with 16 points and the Lady Vols used a big second half to crush SMU, 87-47, on Friday and win the Lucaya Division championship of the 11th-annual Junkanoo Jam.

The win marked UT's first holiday tournament title since winning the 2005 Paradise Jam during Thanksgiving break in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Lady Vols (7-0) advanced to Friday's title game after defeating Virginia, 76-67, on Thursday afternoon. The Mustangs (7-1) topped Kansas State, 68-57, on Thursday.

Bashaara Graves posted her second double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 assists. Isabelle Harrison had 10 points, most coming off a big surge early in the second half, and played just seven minutes because of foul trouble.Jasmine Jones was strong off the bench, scoring 13 points off 5-of-8 shooting and corralling four rebounds.

Tennessee shot 46.6 percent for the game, including 55.9 percent in the second half (19-of-34). UT outscored the Mustangs, 48-20, after halftime. The Lady Vols enjoyed a 54-31 rebounding advantage for the game.

With under seven minutes remaining, Cierra Burdick stole the ball and pushed it ahead to set up a Nia Moore tip-in. Jones split a pair of defenders on UT's next possession to push the Lady Vols' lead to 35 points at 76-41 with 6:06 remaining. A 3-pointer by Jones at the top of the arc with 4:30 left extended the UT lead to 40 points (81-41).

Sophomore center Moore entered the game after a big UT run early in the second half and helped maintain UT's dominance in the post with a pair of blocks down low. With under 12 minutes left in the game, Burdick hit a mid-range jumper from her right elbow to stretch Tennessee's lead to 30 points at 63-33.

Tennessee opened the second half with an 8-2 burst to create some separation. Storming out of the game, UT surged with a quick score by Harrison, a drive and a bucket by Massengale and another layup by Harrison. Harrison would score again on an assist by Andraya Carter before a third foul returned her to the UT bench. The Lady Vol surge continued with a Massengale 3-ball and a nice dish by Mercedes Russell inside to Graves, giving Tennessee a 21-point edge at 52-31 with 17:11 remaining.

UT led 39-27 at the half. Massengale paced the team with 11 points and four assists heading in to the break and Graves had a team-best nine boards at that point.

SMU pulled to within 24-17 midway through the first half, but Meighan Simmons nailed back-to-back treys to re-claim momentum for Tennessee. With four minutes left before the break, Mustangs guard Keena Mays scored quickly off a UT miss to bring SMU to within nine points at 32-23. Big free throws and hard drives into the lane by Massengale helped re-establish a double-digit Tennessee lead and neutralize SMU runs.

Burdick hit a long jumper with 11:20 left in first half to stretch UT's lead to 21-5 but picked up her second foul shortly after, sending her to the bench. Even with two of its starting post players on the bench, the Lady Vols continued to dominate the boards. SMU re-focused its offense to the inside game as Akil Simpson hit a two-point jumper and drove the paint for a layup to pull to Mustangs to within 23-15 with 7:15 remaining before the half.

Harrison picked up her second foul before the first media timeout and Tennessee subbed in Russell. Russell scored on an entry pass from Jordan Reynolds and Carter had a reverse layup to push UT's lead to 19-5 heading into the second media timeout. Through the first eight minutes of the game, SMU shot just 10 percent from the floor.

The Lady Vols jumped out to a 10-3 lead when Carter tipped in a missed shot just over three minutes into the game. After a pair of SMU free throws, Harrison responded with a quick score at the opposite end of the court and Massengale hit a 3-pointer to give UT a double-digit lead at 15-5.

Tennessee will next host Texas on Dec. 8 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game is set for a 1 p.m. ET tip-off and it will be televised on FOX Sports South/FOX Sports Tennessee.

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