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Knoxville, TN – Sophomore Rennia Davis and redshirt senior forward Cheridene Green each posted double-doubles to propel the Tennessee Lady Vols to victory over Florida on Thursday night in Thompson-Boling Arena, 67-50.
Davis ended the day as Tennessee’s (14-7, 3-5 SEC) leading scorer with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Green posted a season-high-tying 15 points and 10 rebounds. All five starters scored in the first quarter for the Lady Vols and combined to finish with 53 of the team’s 67 points as UT won its second straight contest.
Tennessee Women’s Basketball defeats Florida 67-50 Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. (UT Athletics)
The Lady Vols shot 45 percent from the floor, and nine players scored on the night. UT controlled the battle inside, out-rebounding Florida, 48-32, and held a 28-22 scoring advantage in the paint.
Tennessee’s defense complimented its tough play inside, holding UF to 29 percent (19-66) from the field. It was the second-lowest field goal percentage allowed all season by the Big Orange.
The Gators (5-16, 1-7 SEC) were led by redshirt senior guard Funda Nakkasoglu, who finished with 18 points, three rebounds and an assist in the contest. Sophomore Kiara Smith recorded double-digits points, notching 11 in the scoring column along with three rebounds.
Tennessee out-rebounded UF 8-4 in the first 5:26 of the game and set the tone inside early on the Gators, as sophomore center Kasiyahna Kushkituah and Green collected five of the team’s first eight rebounds. The duo finished the contest with a combined 21 points and 16 boards.
The Lady Vols forced the Gators into a scoring drought of 2:01 in the first quarter and held a 15-4 advantage at the 3:07 mark of the first period. Tennessee went on a 9-4 run to end the quarter, knocking down all of its three-point attempts in the frame (3-of-3). Evina Westbrook dropped in two consecutive triples, giving the Lady Vols a 21-6 advantage at the 1:32 mark in the first period.
The Big Orange hit four-straight shots over the rest of the period, taking a 24-8 advantage over the Gators after Rennia Davis hit a last-second three-point shot to end the quarter.
Tennessee finished the first period with eight assists on nine baskets. Westbrook recorded four assists in the quarter, while Zaay Green followed up with three dimes of her own. The 16-point advantage the Lady Vols held over the Gators marked the largest lead the Big Orange held over an opponent in the first quarter since Nov. 18, when it led Florida A&M 34-10 after one period of play.
Florida finished the second period strong, as it went on a 6-0 run over the last 1:15 of the first half and outscored the Lady Vols 19-15 in the quarter. Tennessee went into halftime up 39-27. The Big Orange also held the advantage in the rebound column, as it out-gained the Gators 23-12 on the boards in the first 20 minutes.
Senior guard Meme Jackson made her return to the court to a standing ovation after missing the past two games with an ankle injury at the 1:42 mark in the first quarter. Jackson scored on a floater in the lane with 3:17 in the second period, and she followed the shot up several possessions later with a step-back jumper, extending the Lady Vols’ lead to 39-21 with 1:51 remaining in the first half. The 18-point advantage tied the biggest lead for the Big Orange in the first two quarters.
Cheridene Green controlled the pace for the Lady Vols in the final quarter, as she tallied six points and five rebounds. Tennessee outscored the Gators 15-14 and never led by less than 13 points.
Davis was consistent throughout the game for the Lady Vols, scoring nine of her points in the first half and pitching in 10 in the final 20 minutes. Westbrook was an efficient facilitator in the contest, recording seven assists to only two turnovers. The Lady Vols finished the contest shooting 79 percent from the free throw line (11-14).
Cheridene Green collected six offensive rebounds and helped UT capture a 13-4 advantage in second-chance points in the contest. Tennessee had assists on 18 of its 26 field goals in the game, which equaled 69 percent of the total makes.
The Big Orange held an 18-8 advantage in assists, 5-4 in steals and 2-0 in blocks. UT also outscored Florida’s bench, 14-11.
First Quarter Lockdown
UT held UF to just eight points in the first period, tying UNCA’s eight first-quarter points as the lowest first-quarter point total by an opponent this season. Tennessee rode 56.3% shooting from the field and a went a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc en route to a 16-point lead by the end of the opening stanza. That marked UT’s largest first quarter lead since leading by 24 (34-10) against Florida A&M on Nov. 18.
E Dishin’ Evina Westbrook now has 12 games with five or more assists and is averaging 5.1 apg on the season.
Rennia Rolling Rennia Davis bounced back from a four-game single-digit scoring slump to lead Tennessee offensively in back-to-back games, scoring 24 against LSU and 19 vs. Florida. It marks the first time she has ever led UT in scoring in consecutive games.
Elite Company Rennia Davis has now logged a total of 18 games with 10 or more rebounds, becoming just the second Lady Vol to reach that achievement as an underclassman since the turn of the century. The only other UT sophomore to amass more games with 10+ rebounds since the year 2000 was Candace Parker who tallied 33 by the end of her redshirt sophomore season.
Big On The Boards
Tennessee out-rebounded Florida, 48-32, and is averaging 46.0 rpg in SEC play while holding opponents to an average of 35.5 rpg. UT has now outworked 18 of 21 opponents on the glass this season.
Up Next for Tennessee Lady Vols
The Tennessee Lady Vols return to the road, traveling to in-state rival Vanderbilt for a 3:00pm ET (2:00pm CT) matchup on Sunday, February 3rd. The game will be televised by ESPN2.