While everybody’s attention was on the highly anticipated matchup between No. 20 Tennessee and No. 7 North Carolina on Sunday afternoon, the seventh-ranked Lady Vols blew past Long Beach State 90-61.
With the win over the 49ers (2-9) on their beautifully designed court, Tennessee is now 11-0 for the first time since 2005-06.
“I loved our togetherness,” Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick said following the win. “I loved our ability to defend and rebound. We just played hard.”
Led behind double-doubles from Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared, the Lady Vols scored 20 or more points in all four quarters as they shot 44 percent from the field. Nared finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds while Russell finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The double-double was Russell’s fifth of the season and the 35th of her career. Russell is now tied with Mary Ostrowski for fourth on the program’s all-time list.
“Jaime and Mercedes have done a great job in leadership,” Warlick said. “And the young ones have followed.”
With the pair of seniors dominating, Meme Jackson scored 15 points on a career-high five three-pointers. Jackson and freshman Anastasia Hayes both scored a team-high 15 pointers against the 49ers. Hayes also assisted on four baskets and hauled in six rebounds, as she shot 6-of-10 from the field.
Fellow freshman point guard Evina Westbrook contributed 14 points, giving the Lady Vols five players in double-digits. The former No. 2 overall player in the country added seven assists.
After shooting 57 percent from three in the first half, Tennessee led Long Beach State 49-32. In the opening 20 minutes, the Lady Vols were 8-of-14 from three while also hauling in 12 offensive rebounds. On the evening, Tennessee out-rebounded the 49ers 62-30.
Tennessee continued to dominate throughout the second half, as Long Beach State scored just 12 points in the third quarter.
Former Lady Vols Chamique Holdsclaw, Loree Moore and Jordan Reynolds were on hand to watch Tennessee score 90 or more points for the fourth time this season.
Following the win in southern California, the Lady Vols will now travel to northern Colorado to face No. 18 Stanford (6-4). Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET on Thursday.
“They’re very disciplined, so we have to be disciplined as well,” Warlick said. “We have to make sure we take care of the ball. They run on turnovers, they’re great 3-point shooters, so we have to defend the arc.”
“It’ll be a tough game for us. It’ll be a physical game and I think the team with the least amount of turnovers will win.”
After the win over No. 7 Texas last weekend, the Lady Vols are prepared for the tough environment coming up as they’ve already been battle-tested.
“We’re going to continue to build like we have been recently,” Russell said as Tennessee now turns its attention to Stanford. “Just coming in with a really structured mindset.”
Edited by Seth Raborn
Feature image courtesy of UT Sports