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Knoxville, TN – A combined 18 second-half points from the sophomore duo of Rennia Davis and Evina Westbrook was not enough for the Lady Vols to complete a frantic comeback against No. 13-ranked South Carolina, which notched an 82-67 win at Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday.
Tennessee (17-10, 6-8 SEC) cut the Gamecocks’ lead down to seven points twice in the second half despite a 16-point deficit at the half.
In the loss, four Lady Vols recorded double-digit points on the afternoon: Davis (15), Zaay Green (12), Cheridene Green (11) and Westbrook (10). Freshman Rae Burrell added seven points from the bench, as Davis and Cheridene Green led Tennessee on the glass with nine rebounds apiece.
Tennessee Women’s Basketball sophomore Rennia Davis had 15 points and 9 boards in loss to South Carolina Sunday. (UT Athletics)
The Gamecocks (20-7, 12-2 SEC) were propelled by a 28-point performance from redshirt senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore, who connected on 3-of-7 shots from beyond-the-arc.
Three additional players tallied over 10 points for South Carolina, with junior Tyasha Harris leading the pack with a double-double of 11 points and 14 assists.
Cheridene Green dominated the post early on, scoring all five of the Lady Vols’ points to kick off the game. The Gamecocks, however, shot nearly 60 percent from the floor and tallied 10 fast break points early to take a 20-11 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
South Carolina rode a 16-2 run in the final three minutes of play, extending their lead to 27-11 going into the second quarter. Cheridene Green and Meme Jackson combined for nine of Tennessee’s first-quarter points, with eight of them coming in the paint.
The Gamecocks stretched their lead to 20 points after a 3-pointer at the 8:37 mark, as the Lady Vols shot 2-of-7 from the floor to start the second quarter. Davis powered Tennessee back by logging five quick points to cut the South Carolina lead to 15 points with three minutes left to play in the half. Still, the Lady Vols faced a 43-27 deficit going into the break, as the Gamecocks recorded seven steals and six blocks through two quarters.
Tennessee fought back with an 8-4 run to open the second half and began slowly chipping away at the South Carolina lead. Westbrook led the charge for Tennessee by adding six quick points during the Lady Vols’ run. Tennessee held the Gamecocks without a field goal for three minutes, but South Carolina still possessed a 53-41 lead halfway through the third quarter.
A layup from Westbrook cut the Lady Vols deficit to single digits at the 2:31 mark of the quarter and later the Big Orange whittled the USC lead to seven, 58-51, with 41 seconds to go in the period. Davis and Westbrook meshed for 14 points, but the Gamecocks kept responding to keep UT at bay, carrying a 60-51 lead going into the final quarter of play.
The two teams traded buckets, with all of Tennessee’s 10 points coming from the paint and the charity stripe to begin the fourth quarter. UT cut the deficit to seven, 66-59, with 7:27 to go, but it could get no closer.
A deep 3-pointer from Cuevas-Moore gave South Carolina a 76-65 lead with under three minutes remaining in the game. The Lady Vols held the Gamecocks to a two-minute scoring drought and shot 45 percent from the floor, but it was not enough to overcome the visitors.
Cleaning The Glas UT out-rebounded USC 44 to 35 and is averaging 44.9 rpg in SEC play while holding opponents to an average of 34.6 rpg. UT now has outworked 23 of 27 opponents on the glass this season, including 13 of 14 in SEC play.
Points in the Paint The Tennessee Lady Vols scored 50 points in the paint against USC, the most they’ve scored against an SEC opponent this season and their highest total since dropping 58 against Murray State on Dec. 28.
Up Next For Tennessee Lady Vols
The Tennessee Lady Vols will play its final home game of the season Thursday, February 28th hosting Vanderbilt for Senior Day. The game will tip at 7:00pm and be broadcast by the SEC Network.