The second game of the post-Pat Summitt era went a lot better for Tennessee than the first.
Freshman Bashaara Graves scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Cierra Burdick added a career-high 16 points as the No. 20 Lady Volunteers beat No. 22 Georgia Tech 71-54 on Sunday to put a damper on the Yellow Jackets’ debut in their new McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets (0-1) trailed 45-30 at halftime before starting the second half with a 13-0 run. The Lady Vols (1-1) bettered that with an 18-0 burst to even their record in their second game under new head coach Holly Warlick, whose own debut was ruined with a loss at Chattanooga on Friday night.
Tennessee lost 80-71 after the Mocs broke a halftime tie with a 52-point second half during which they shot 56.3 percent. The Lady Vols committed 26 turnovers and handed out just six assists.
Sunday, the Lady Vols decreased their turnovers and increased their assists-17 of each-and it was the Yellow Jackets who were loose with the ball in their first game. Tech committed 20 turnovers and managed just eight assists.
Summitt, who announced last year that she has early-onset dementia before stepping down in April, sat five rows behind the Tennessee bench at the game with Chattanooga, but she didn’t make the trip Georgia Tech.
Warlick, who played for Summitt and was an assistant on her staff for 27 seasons, said after the Chattanooga game that her inexperienced team still didn’t appreciate the importance of playing defense.
Without a starter back from the team that lost an NCAA regional final to eventual national champion Baylor last spring, Tennessee defended more passionately at Georgia Tech.
The Lady Vols also dominated the paint in the first half. They led 45-30 at intermission on the strength of 15 points by Burdick and 14 points and eight rebounds from Graves.
Georgia Tech starting power forward Danielle Hamilton-Carter and starting center Nariah Taylor, meanwhile, were each scoreless in the first half and didn’t get off a shot.
The Yellow Jackets rallied at the start of the second half. Marshall scored seven points during a 13-0 run, and Maye’s layup with 15:25 remaining pulled Georgia Tech within 45-43.
Then the Lady Vols snapped back to life.
A jumper by Jasmine Jones ended Tennessee’s scoreless streak a minute later and started an 18-0 run for the visitors.
By time Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph called for a timeout with nine minutes left, the Lady Vols led 60-43 on Arile Massengale’s layup off of Tennessee’s ninth steal of the game.
Tennessee returns home to host Rice on Thursday at 7 p.m. That game will be available on UTSports.com with live streaming video and audio on the Vol Network.