Lady Vols Blast Liberty to Open NCAA Tournament

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Freshman Rennia Davis scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in her women’s NCAA Tournament debut as No. 3 seed Tennessee pulled away in the second half to beat No. 14 Liberty 100-60 in the first round on Friday.

Tennessee (25-7) plays No. 6 Oregon State in the second round of the Lexington Regional on Sunday with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. Oregon State beat No. 11 Western Kentucky 82-58 in the opening game.

The Lady Vols used an offensive outburst in the third quarter to win their NCAA opener for the ninth straight season and remain undefeated at home in NCAA play at 57-0.

Tennessee finished 24 of 30 from the field in the second half (80 percent) and scored 64 points.

Liberty entered the game ranked No. 7 in the country in scoring defense (53.7 points per game), but couldn’t hold Tennessee’s offense down for a full game.

The last time Liberty (24-10) allowed a team to score 100 points was in 1998, when the Lady Flames lost to Tennessee in an NCAA Tournament game in Knoxville.

Liberty managed to stay close throughout the first half, which ended with Tennessee holding a 36-28 advantage.

Tennessee struggled with early turnovers as freshmen guards Evina Westbrook and Anastasia Hayes combined for seven of UT’s 11 turnovers in the first half. Tennessee seniors Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell were a combined 2 for 9 from the field in the half.

But Tennessee’s pressure defense triggered its offense in the second half as the Lady Vols scored 38 points in the third quarter to take control.

Hayes and Nared completed back-to-back 3-point plays off turnovers to give the Lady Vols a 50-33 lead.Tennessee continued to pour it on, with Meme Jackson draining a 3-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer for a 74-48 lead.

Davis led seven Tennessee players in double-figures scoring. Cheridene Green came off the bench to score 15 points and grab 12 rebounds for the Lady Vols.

Tennessee finished the game shooting 61.7 percent from the field (37 of 60) and outrebounded undersized Liberty 45-29.

Lela Sellers led Liberty with 13 points. Big South Conference Player of the Year Keyen Green scored 10 points, all in the second half.


Tennessee: Although it took awhile to get started, the Lady Vols did what was expected and beat an overmatched opponent in the first round. Tennessee will need to improve on turnovers (17) and free-throw shooting (22 of 36) against Oregon State.

Liberty: A long shot to win, the Lady Flames displayed some moments of strong play and were feisty in the first half. The loss made for a short homecoming for head coach Carey Green, who grew up in the greater Knoxville area. Green had several relatives in the stands, including his 83-year-old mother.


Tennessee: The Lady Vols prepare to face Oregon State for the fifth time in program history. Tennessee is 4-0 against OSU.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Categories: Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UT Vols

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