Things are finally coming together for the Tennessee Lady Vols. With Jasmine Franklin and Rickea Jackson back in the lineup Wednesday, Rocky Top dominated the UCF Knights 99-64 to win their third straight game, their longest streak of the year.
Kellie Harper’s team was locked in a tight one early, trailing 21-20 at the end of the first quarter. They only led 31-28 at halftime. However, they opened the second half on an 11-2 run and won the third quarter 34-10. That dominance continued into the fourth quarter, which they won 24-16.
With the win, UT improves to 7-5 on the year and will next visit the Stanford Cardinal Sunday. UCF falls to 6-3 and returns home for the UCF Christmas Classic in which they will host the Idaho State Bengals and Elon Phoenix next Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are three things we learned from the Tennessee Lady Vols’ victory.
1. Shots were falling.
Honestly, the defense came and went, and that was the difference in the second half. However, offense, while red-hot in the third quarter, was never really off, as Rocky Top scored at least 20 in every quarter. The key was the fact that they were hitting all of their shots. UT was 9-of-25, or 36 percent from three.
Sara Puckett and Tess Darby both went 2-of-4 from outside, doing what they were recruited to do, Jordan Horston went 1-of-3, Jackson went 1-of-2, and Justine Pissott went 2-of-5 en route to 14 points. This team was also 36-of-77 from the field and 18-of-23 from the foul line, so they were efficient everywhere.
2. Ball movement was at its best in four years.
A huge part of the Tennessee Lady Vols’ offense was the unselfish play. Honestly, this was the best it’s been in the Harper era. We know of the issues they have had taking care of the ball. Well, they had 24 assists and just six turnovers in this game. Here’s the crazy stat: They scored 99 points, and only two players had double figures.
Pissott was one of the players to hit double figures. Jordan Horston, to nobody’s surprise, was the leader with 15 points. Jasmine Powell and Horston both had five assists, and Jordan Walker added four. Nobody had more than one turnover. It was truly a complete performance.
3. Interior was still dominant.
Tamari Key is out for the season, and Franklin and Jackson were getting reacclimated to the offense, so they came off the bench. Still, Rocky Top dominated UCF inside, outrebounding them 48-35 and coming away with four blocks, one more than they had, despite two wings starting at the three and four.
Horston was part of this aggression in the paint with seven boards and a block. However, Karoline Striplin, the starting five, also had a block. Jackson had five points and two boards in nine minutes. The stars, though, were Franklin and Jillian Hollingshead. Franklin led the Tennessee Lady Vols in rebounding with 10 and had eight points. Hollingshead had nine points and two blocks.