KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In just the third meeting in school history, the University of Tennessee defeated Central Arkansas, 63-36, in Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday night with a crowd of 7,278 looking on.
After allowing 18 points to the Sugar Bears (0-1) in the first quarter, Tennessee (2-0) surrendered just 18 points the rest of the way to give UT Head Coach Kellie Harper her first regular-season win on The Summitt. The effort enabled the Lady Vols to improve their record in home openers to 43-3 all-time.
In her first career start in a Lady Vol uniform, freshman guard Jordan Horston posted a team-leading 17 points on 7-of-9 accuracy from the field and 2-of-2 shooting from the three-point arc. She also pulled down five rebounds and dished out three assists in 27 minutes of duty.
Sophomore guard Zaay Green tossed in nine points, while freshman Tamari Key and sophomore Rae Burrell chipped in eight each. Key was one of five Lady Vols pulling down five rebounds and once again led UT with three blocked shots. She is averaging four per game through her first two contests.
Along with Horston, Key also had her first career start, and the two newcomers scored UT’s first 14 points to give Tennessee a 14-6 lead halfway through the first quarter. Redshirt senior Lou Brown, a graduate transfer from Washington State who sat out last season with a knee injury, also got her first start for Tennessee. She tied Key and three others for the team lead in rebounds.
Horston started the game off hot by scoring the first two buckets for the Big Orange, giving UT an early 5-0 lead. The freshman duo put up a perfect 6-for-6 showing in field goals, as Horston finished with eight points and Key contributed the other six during the early spurt. The Lady Vols finished the first quarter with 20 points, with Horston tallying 13 of them.
Horston continued her scoring streak by making the first bucket in the second frame, followed shortly by a three-pointer from sophomore Zaay Green. Another fellow newcomer, Jessie Rennie, also reached a milestone by scoring her first career points as a Lady Vol, draining a clutch three-point bucket with less than two minutes remaining in the half to extend UT’s lead to 31-26.
To finish off the first half, sophomore Jazmine Massengill scored a last-second bucket, pushing the Big Orange’s lead to 33-26 entering the locker room. The newcomers combined for 22 points in the first half.
The Lady Vols came out storming in the third quarter, shooting a blazing 64.3 percent from the field and jumping to a 51-32 lead after 10 more minutes of play. Horston opened up the second half with another jumper and brought her scoring total to 17 points in three quarters of play. Defensively, UT only allowed the Sugar Bears seven points in the quarter and 16.7 percent shooting from the field.
In the final stanza of the non-conference game, Green and sophomore Rae Burrell each scored four points. Freshman Emily Saunders also scored her first career bucket and collected three rebounds in just four minutes of play.
Tennessee also had an impressive showing from the bench with 21 points scored by reserves. The Lady Vols dominated the paint, scoring 44 points, and only allowed 14 by UCA. UT also led in the rebounds column, outworking the Sugar Bears, 41-36, in rebounds.
Up Next: Tennessee hits the road for a match-up at No. 16/14 Notre Dame at 7 p.m. on Monday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Hot-Hand Horston: Freshman Jordan Horston started out a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from behind the arc. She went on to go 7-of-9 on the day to finish with a game-high 17 points.
Newbies Getting Things Started: For the second-straight game, newcomers got things started offensively for Tennessee, scoring the first 16 points of the game (Jordan Horston – 8, Tamari Key – 6, Lou Brown – 2). In the previous game against ETSU, newcomers scored the first 17 points (Brown – 9, Horston – 4, Jaiden McCoy – 2, Key – 2).
A Night of Firsts: Three new Lady Vols made their way into the starting lineup against Central Arkansas. Freshmen Jordan Horston and Tamari Key each made their first career starts, while redshirt senior Lou Brown made her first start at Tennessee.
Balanced Attack: All 11 active Tennessee players contributed at least two points in the win over UCA.
Tightening Up The Defense: After allowing UCA to score 18 points in the first quarter, UT bunkered down and allowed just seven points each in the second and third quarters. The Lady Vols then held the Sugar Bears to only four points in the fourth stanza, tying for the third fewest points allowed in a quarter.
Owning The Paint: The Lady Vols scored 46 of their 63 points in the paint while allowing the Sugar Bears just 14.