Midway through the third quarter of No. 9 Tennessee’s matchup against eighth-ranked Stanford, Mimi Collins connected on a short jumper to give Tennessee its first lead of its matchup, and Thompson-Boling Arena erupted in response.
However, the excitement was short-lived because Stanford quickly regained the lead and cruised to a 95-85 win. Stanford (8-1) shot 58 percent from 3-point range and dealt Tennessee (8-1) its first loss of the season.
Tennessee’s defense forced 20 turnovers but never found an answer for Stanford’s accurate perimeter shooting. The Cardinal had offensive success early and went 4 of 16 from 3-point range in the opening quarter. Stanford tallied 14 3-pointers at the end of the game.
“We lacked attention to detail,” coach Holly Warlick said. “Coming in, we knew they were gonna shoot the 3 and we gave up 14. We just didn’t play very well today.”
The Lady Vols’ offense struggled early in the game.
Tennessee shot just 33 percent from the field in the first quarter. Cheridene Green’s six first-quarter points gave the sluggish Lady Vol offense the lift it needed, and Meme Jackson’s 3-pointer at the end of the quarter pulled Tennessee within 5 points of Stanford. However, Tennessee failed to gain further traction and went into halftime trailing by 10.
Evina Westbrook led Tennessee with 29 points, 10 assists, four rebounds and two steals. Meme Jackson scored 17 points, and Rennia Davis and Zaay Green added 14 points apiece.
“I thought Evina was one player that competed tonight,” Warlick said. “She’s been doing that. I loved her aggressiveness. She played a solid game, but she’s been doing that. We’re really proud of her. Just great effort.”
Meme Jackson admitted that Tennessee’s effort was lacking.
“Usually, when we get down we fight back and give more effort,” she explained. “Tonight, we didn’t do that. We didn’t give the effort that we should have gave. We weren’t getting out and contesting shots like we were supposed to.”
And when the Lady Vols refused to contest shots, Stanford made Tennessee pay.
Dijonai Carrington led the Cardinal with 33 points, while Alana Smith and Kiana Williams notched 16 apiece. Lacie Hull and Maya Dodsono rounded out Stanford’s double-digit scoring with 10 points each, giving Stanford five players who finished with double digits.
Meanwhile, Rennia Davis grabbed her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Jackson insists the team isn’t discouraged and will learn and move on to the next matchup, which features Tennessee against in-state rival East Tennessee State.
“No, we’re not discouraged at all,” she said. “We just got to go back to work.”
Tip-off against the Buccaneers is slated for Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena, and the game can be seen on SEC Network+.