Lady Volunteers cruise past Eastern Kentucky

Lady Volunteers cruise past Eastern Kentucky

7 hours ago
Tennesse Athletics

Photo: Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee recorded its first wire-to-wire win of the season, seizing a 72-63 victory over Eastern Kentucky University in Food City Center on Sunday afternoon.

Junior Karoline Striplin was once again the high scorer for Tennessee (5-5), finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds. Senior Jewel Spear was also in double figures with 12, and junior Sara Puckett, senior Tess Darby and fifth-year senior Jasmine Powell all turned in nine on the day, with Powell adding season highs of eight rebounds and five assists to her stat line. 

The Colonels (8-2) were led by Antwainette Walker, who managed a game-high 24 points. Alice Recanati and Jasmine McGinnis-Taylor were also in double digits with 12 and 10, respectively.

The Lady Vols wasted no time getting on the board, with Powell finding Puckett wide open under the basket off the jump for an easy bucket seven seconds into the contest. Recanati scored EKU’s first points with a layup at the 8:19 mark, after which neither team managed a field goal until Striplin sank a 12-foot jumper with 4:28 left in the first to give UT a 6-2 margin. The Lady Vols maintained their four-point advantage into the final seconds of the quarter when Kaiya Wynn converted a pair of free throws with 12 seconds on the clock to send the game into the second period with UT ahead 15-9.

The Colonels trimmed the deficit down to one in the first minute and a half of the second quarter, but Darby answered with a trey on UT’s next possession to put the Lady Vols up 18-14 with 8:28 to go in the half. An old-fashioned three-point play and a layup by Puckett stretched UT’s lead to nine before Walker and Ivy Turner combined for five quick points to pull Eastern Kentucky back within four at 23-19 by the 6:26 mark. Powell countered with a layup a minute later, and the teams swapped buckets until Wynn and Puckett combined for six points on back-to-back plays to set off a 10-2 UT run that had Tennessee up 36-26 with just over a minute to go in the half. EKU closed out the period strong, scoring five straight points to make the halftime score 36-31.

The second half started much the same as the first, with Puckett hitting a layup off an assist from Powell to open the scoring. Spear drained a trey to extend UT’s advantage to 10 before five quick points by Walker had EKU within five by the 8:31 mark. Striplin knocked down a layup on the other end, and UT maintained its seven-point advantage into the final minute of the third when a three by Turner and a fast-break layup by Walker on back-to-back plays pulled the Colonels within four, a margin that would hold through the buzzer, as Tennessee took a 55-51 lead into the final stanza.

Recanati drained three-pointer on EKU’s first possession of the fourth, moving the Colonels within one. Spear got an offensive rebound and the put-back, and Darby followed it up with a three to propel UT ahead 60-54 with 7:47 to go in the game. A three by Spear at the 6:48 mark made it an 8-0 UT run, and another Darby trey with 4:29 to play sent the Lady Vols’ lead into double digits. Powell added a layup at the 1:22 mark to give Tennessee its largest edge of the game at 70-57, and the Lady Vols managed the clock the rest of the way for a 72-63 win.

NEXT UP: Tennessee will return to action on Dec. 19, as Wofford ventures to Knoxville to take on the Lady Vols at Food City Center. The game is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET, and the contest will be streamed live on SECN+.

KARO IN DOUBLE FIGURES AGAIN: Coming off a career-high 29 points vs. Middle Tennessee, Karoline Striplin posted 17 points against the Colonels. She recorded her sixth game in double figures and team-leading fifth contest as UT’s top point producer. Striplin now is averaging 12.3 ppg., which tied for second on the team with Sara Puckett.

FIRST QUARTER DEFENSE: The Lady Vols held EKU to just nine points in the opening quarter, which ties for the lowest amount of points allowed in a period this season. Tennessee also held Troy to nine points in the second quarter on 11/19/23.

FINISHING STRONG TOO: Tennessee finished strong on the defensive end, limiting EKU to 12 points in the final stanza. That total was the lowest fourth-quarter point total all season by a Lady Vol opponent. The Colonels’ 32 second-half points also stand as a low-water mark by a foe during the 2023-24 campaign.

TK SWAT: Redshirt senior Tamari Key blocked a season-high three shots vs. EKU. She moved into a tie for the team lead this season with eight and now has a UT-record 303 for her career, which ranks her ninth on the SEC’s all-time blocks lists.

BACK IN THE WIN COLUMN ON THE BOARDS: After a three-game slide, Tennessee was back in the winning column on the scoreboard and boards. The Lady Vols out-rebounded EKU, 47-36, to improve to 5-1 this season when they claim the battle on the glass. During the Kellie Harper era, UT is 87-21 when grabbing more caroms than opponents.

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