After the Lady Vols lost three of their last four games, one would think they’d have an easier outing playing a non-ranked team after battling against four straight Top 25 foes. As it turned out, the Ladies in Orange would need the help of Rennia Davis and her career-high-tying 18 points to pull away late and squeeze out the 75-66 win.
They would have to depend on a zone defense to shut down the Rebels to avoid the huge upset. Senior Jamie Nared said they should not have to default to a zone because they have the talent to play man-to-man. Nared would finish with another double-double getting 15 points and 10 rebounds.
In the first half, the Lady Vols looked like a top-ranked team as they built a 16-point cushion only to see Ole Miss go on a 14-0 run to cut the lead to two at the half, 40-38. The Rebels were carried by Madinah Muhammad as she nailed 6-of-7 from three for 22 first-half points to finish the game with 31.
Ole Miss continued its assault on Tennessee in the third quarter and tied the game at 49 with 2:54 left in the period. That is when Tennesee head coach, Holly Warlick, decided it was time to go zone and get more aggressive.
What they got was a 14-2 run, building the lead to as high as 19 where the Lady Vols pulled away. This game, like so many this year, had a recurring theme of lapses in defensive that have haunted them so far. This will have to come to a stop if they hope to compete with the best of the best down the stretch and into the SEC tournament.
Davis added eight rebounds and got help from senior Mercedes Russell who tallied 13 points and Anatasia Hayes chipping in 15 of her own. Warlick had plans to rest Russell and Nared, but that plan had to be altered when Ole Miss refused to go away.
Next up for Tennessee is LSU on Sunday before their rematch against Texas A&M. They will try to avenge their first loss of the season at the hands of the Aggies, 79-76.