KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The struggles continue for the Lady Vols. A last-second three from sophomore Evina Westbrook bounced off the rim and Tennessee fell to Arkansas 80-79 on We Back Pat night, losing its fifth straight game.
It was Arkansas' second win in 16 trips to Knoxville.
"I told the players what I learned from Pat is, when times are tough you lean on each other," head coach Holly Warlick said.
"I thought we did that today. The losses are tough. Everything right now is tough on this team, but we have got to come together, because we are the only ones that can fix it. These players are going to rally together. That is what I talked about, lean on each other. It is a fight. It is a battle. When we play within our team and together, we are a pretty good basketball team."
Westbrook led all scorers with 24 points adding four rebounds, five assists and three steals. Freshman Zaay Green tied a career-high with 17 points, adding six rebounds and three assists of her own. Redshirt senior Cheridene Green recorded her third double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Tennessee trailed by 10 with 4:42 left in the third quarter when Warlick yelled at her team during a timeout, slamming an eraser on her drawing board. The Lady Vols responded, rallying to take the lead on a Rennia Davis three-pointer with 7:35 left in the game.
But, like several other games during the losing streak, Tennessee couldn't finish down the stretch. The Razorbacks scored six points off two Tennessee turnovers in the final 2:08 of the game.
Malica Monk hit a mid-range jumper from the wing with 3.3 seconds left to give Arkansas the win.
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Three of the five games in Tennessee's losing streak have been decided by two points or less. Another loss came by four points. Warlick says that's the product of having a young team. Seventy-one percent of the Lady Vols minutes come from freshmen and sophomores.
"It is a young team trying to defend seasoned players, but that is what we've got," Warlick said. "They are talented, and they are continuing to learn and grow. It is about a young team and again, they've got to understand that little mistakes keep adding up. The 16 turnovers - I think we had nine or 10 in the first half. It just keeps adding up. Arkansas had 20 points off our turnovers and 12 threes. We have got to really understand the importance of taking care of the basketball. Late in the game, we turned it over. We have got to at least get a shot off. Those are things we are going to continue to work on."
"It was really tough in the locker room, because they have really worked hard these last couple of days. But I have confidence in them. I have confidence in my staff. All the noise that we are hearing, the players have blocked that out, and they are playing with a lot of heart, and that is all that I can ask them to do. I am not going to give up on this basketball team."
Arkansas was hot to start off each half, shooting 60 percent from three in the first quarter and 41.7 percent in the third quarter. The Razorbacks did most of their work from outside, shooting 37.5 percent from the perimeter and 34.8 percent from the rest of the floor.
Senior Meme Jackson took a hard fall in the second half and had to be helped off the court. She did play for the rest of the game. Warlick said she is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
The Lady Vols' next game doesn't get any easier. The team will host No. 1 Notre Dame at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. The Fighting Irish are 18-1, with its only loss coming against UConn.