Meighan Simmons scored 20 points and Mercedes Russell grabbed 11
rebounds to help No. 10 Tennessee edge Missouri 56-50 on Sunday.
Simmons' steal and breakaway layup with 11:50 remaining capped a 22-5
run to give the Lady Vols (22-5, 11-3 SEC) a 43-27 lead, but Missouri
clawed back to within 50-47 on Bri Kulas' layup with 1:22 left.
Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison then converted two free throws with 34.7
seconds to go and two more with 11.4 seconds left to end Missouri's
chances. Kulas added a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
Kulas finished with 22 points and Morgan Eye added 15 for the Tigers
(16-11, 5-9), who only trailed by one point at halftime despite
shooting 2 of 14 from 3-point range before the break.
The schools met for the first time since Missouri upset then-No. 9
Tennessee 80-63 on Feb. 3, 2013. Officials announced attendance at
5,017, the highest this season for Missouri.
Missouri, which ranks third in the country and first in the SEC with
9.5 3-pointers per game, missed its first nine 3s before Kayla
McDowell's long-range attempt connected 9 ½ minutes into the game.
Only four players scored for the Tigers, who finished 7 of 32 from
Eye gave the Tigers their first lead of the game with 3:30 remaining
before the break, hitting her first 3-pointer in six attempts to give
Missouri a 22-21 advantage. She finished short of her 18.4-point
average, good for second in the SEC.
Missouri's lead lasted only 22 seconds, though, as Mercedes Russell
converted a layup and Andraya Carter added another to give Tennessee a
23-22 halftime edge. The Lady Vols then started the second half on a
18-5 run before Eye ended the run with a 3-pointer with 11:19 left.
Tennessee committed 10 turnovers in the first half and six more in the
second after placing special emphasis on holding onto the ball in
practice following a 22-turnover performance against then- No. 18
Kentucky two games ago. That game resulted in a 75-71 loss,
Tennessee's only setback in their last nine games.
Simmons scored the Lady Vols' first eight points of the game in 2:39,
but tallied two more points in the half off a layup 12 minutes later.
She finished 6 of 16 from the field while Bashaara Graves joined her
in double figures with 11 points.