Lady Vols Blow 23 Point Lead in Losing Top 10 Showdown to Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Arike Ogunbowale scored 27 points, and No. 5 Notre Dame completed its largest-ever comeback to beat No. 6 Tennessee 84-70 on Thursday night.
The Irish (17-2) trailed by 23 points early in the second quarter but rallied with an aggressive defense that forced 28 Tennessee turnovers, 15 in the second half. The previous biggest deficit that the Irish had overcome in a victory was an 18-point hole against Duke in the Junkaroo Jam on Nov. 26, 2011.
A 12-0 run by the Irish coincided with a nearly three-minute scoreless skid by Tennessee (16-2) to give Notre Dame a 70-65 lead with 4:12 to play that it would not relinquish.
Marina Mabrey finished with 20 points, Jackie Young scored 18 and Jessica Shepard had 12 for Notre Dame. Meme Jackson had 18 points, Jaime Nared scored 14 and three players – Rennia Davis, Mercedes Russell and Evina Westbrook – each had 12 for Tennessee, which shot 57 percent to the Irish’s 48 percent. Tennessee also outrebounded the Irish 34-27, but its 28 turnovers were 16 more than Notre Dame.
The Lady Vols used runs of 10-0 and 11-0 in the first quarter while shooting 68.4 percent from the floor (13 of 19) to take a 27-10 lead. Notre Dame hit just four of its first 17 shots and was outrebounded 14-5 in the quarter. Russell had six points despite sitting out the last four minutes after taking a hit in the nose.
Tennessee’s biggest lead was 37-14 with 7:03 remaining in the second quarter. But Notre Dame closed the period on a 13-2 run with eight points by Ogunbowale, who had 10 at halftime. The Lady Vols went scoreless in the final 5:33 and led 39-27 at the break.
Tennessee hit five of its first six shots and had a 7-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back baskets by Jackson, for a 52-37 lead with 4:49 left in the third quarter. But eight turnovers by the Lady Vols allowed the Irish to cut the lead to 54-46 before a pair of 3-pointers by Davis and Westbrook gave Tennessee a 60-50 lead after three quarters.
The Irish closed within five points on a basket by Ogunbowale before a Tennessee timeout with 7:35 left.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols are 1-2 in their stretch of four straight games against ranked teams that ends Sunday. After winning their first 15 games and starting 3-0 in the SEC, Tennessee lost at No. 17 Texas A&M in overtime before rebounding with a victory at No. 9 South Carolina last Sunday. No. 3 Mississippi State awaits the Lady Vols Sunday in Knoxville.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have an 18-game winning streak at Purcell Pavilion. They have spent 204 consecutive games in the AP Top 25 and 134 straight weeks in the AP Top 10.
Tennessee: Hosts No. 3 Mississippi State on Sunday.
Notre Dame: Hosts Clemson on Sunday.
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