The Lady Vols were locked in a back and forth struggle against Vanderbilt late into the game on Sunday. With just barely enough time left in the third quarter, freshman guard Anastasia Hayes found a wide open Meme Jackson across the court for a three at the buzzer. The Lady Vols broke a 62-62 tie, and wouldn't give up the lead.
The game was a classic battle of inside versus outside. For Vanderbilt, outside shooting kept it close. The Commodores shot 10-20 from behind the arc, with 20 points coming from Cierra Walker. Christa Reed added 16 of her own.
But the frontcourt for the Lady Vols was too much to handle. Mercedes Russell and Cheridene Green both went for career-highs in the points column. Russell dropped 33 points, shooting 14-20 from the field. Green, the London native, added 17 of her own, going 7-8 from the field in just 21 minutes of action, the model of efficiency.
"I was just focusing on the little stuff," said Green.
Head coach Holly Warlick was proud of the effort down the stretch, but wanted more from her team on defense going forward.
"You saw a reflection of us," said Warlick, "not staying focused."
The Lady Vols will need all the focus it can get. The next four games are absolutely brutal.
-January 11 - At No. 19 Texas A&M
-January 14 - At No. 4 South Carolina
-January 18 - At No. 2 Notre Dame
-January 21 - Home vs. No. 5 Mississippi State
The Lady Vols are currently 3-0 against ranked teams, with wins over Marquette (currently not ranked), Texas and Stanford.