A brutal start to the season for the Tennessee Lady Vols ended in more heartbreak in their final outing in The Bahamas on Paradise Island Monday. One day after losing 80-63 to the UCLA Bruins, UT lost a 73-72 heartbreaker to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament third place game.
In a close back and fourth game, Yvonne Ejim made a layup with 11 seconds left to give Gonzaga the lead. Kellie Harper’s team had three chances thanks to offensive rebounds on their final possession, but Jasmine Powell missed a layup and a jumper, and Jordan Horston missed a shot.
Horston hit a shot to put UT up 72-71 with 38 seconds left. With the loss, Rocky Top falls to 2-4 on the year and will next host the Colorado Buffaloes on Friday. Gonzaga improves to 5-1 and will next host the Eastern Washington Eagles Saturday. Here are three things we learned from the Tennessee Lady Vols in this game.
1. Both teams shot the ball relatively well.
They had some issues on easier buckets, evidenced by that final possession for Rocky Top, but outside shooting was elite. UT shot 3-of-7 from three on the day, and Gonzaga shot 8-of-22. Both teams were over 80 percent from the free throw line. Unfortunately for Harper and co., Gonzaga was more aggressive from three while shooting well.
Tess Darby hit both of her three-point attempts and had six points. She should’ve taken more. Horston hit the other as she led the team with 19 points. Nobody on the team missed more than one free throw either. It was consistent too, as UT scored 18 points every quarter.
2. Tamari Key needs to be more aggressive.
Power forwards for the Tennessee Lady Vols were elite, and that should have been enough to win. Rickea Jackson was 6-of-12 from the field and scored 16 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Jasmine Franklin came off the bench and went 3-of-5 from the field, scoring 11 points while grabbing nine rebounds.
How, then, was this team not able to dominate inside the way it needs to when trying to offset three-point shooting? Key wasn’t herself, and she hasn’t been on this trip. She only scored seven points, going 2-of-3 from the field. Worse yet, she had just one block and just one rebound. This isn’t the Key we know. Foul trouble exacerbated this, but it’s still a problem.
3. Ball movement is still an issue.
Although they once again kept their turnovers in check with 14 while forcing 16, ball movement was a problem for a second straight day. UT finished with just 10 assists, which isn’t typical of a team that was shooting as well as they did. Jasmine Powell had four assists, but nobody else had more than two.
Powell and Jordan Walker have to distribute more for the Tennessee Lady Vols, and Horston also has to come through. She was aggressive elsewhere, coming away with three blocks, two steals and nine rebounds in addition to 19 points, but she had just one assist. That can’t happen if this team is going to be successful.