WACO, Texas – Third-ranked Baylor raced out to a 17-0 lead as the Bears ended Tennessee’s seven-game win streak, handing the No. 10 Lady Vols a 76-53 defeat on Tuesday night.
Tennessee trailed 41-16 at halftime. The 25-point deficit was the largest at halftime in school history. The previous largest margin was 20 against Rutgers in 2009 as the Lady Vols rallied from down 33-13 to win 55-51 on the road.
“It was frustrating because we almost always shoot the ball well,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “I think we had open looks, but they were always rushed. We were quick-shooting the basketball and our gameplan was not to quick-shoot the basketball. We were trying to make everything up in one possession.”
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey thought teamwork was the key to the quick start.
“I thought we got some transition looks and shared the ball well,” she said. “Again, I thought that it started on the defensive end. They missed a lot of shots, but I tend to want to think that we were contesting them. . Tennessee shoots a lot of shots. We knew that. If you look at their style, they come down the court and they don’t take a bad shot. We understood that and made sure that we were back in transition for defense. Any shot they made, we made sure to contest it.”
Baylor moved to 9-1 overall as Brittney Griner scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Kimetria Hayden added 16 points. Brooklyn Pope corralled a game-best 16 rebounds to go along with 11 points.
Tennessee (7-2) was led by Meighan Simmons, who scored 16 points. Kamiko Williams scored a season-high 15 points, two off her career-high of 17. Williams posted her first-career double-double with a career-high 10 rebounds.
Tennessee played without 6-3 center Isabelle Harrison, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle.
The 23-point loss equaled the eight-largest in school history.
The Lady Vols missed their first 11 shots of the game before scoring for the first time, with 13:05 left in the first half, on a Cierra Burdick jumper to make it 17-2.
Tennessee tried to climb out of the early hole, but it proved to be too much to overcome.
UT cut the deficit to 12 at 21-9 and 23-11, but Baylor continued its sharp shooting in the first half and regained a 20-plus point lead at 32-11 on a 3-pointer by Hayden with 6:49 left in the first half. The run expanded to 13-0 to gave Baylor a 36-11 lead with five minutes left in the half. Taber Spani ended the drought with a 3-pointer at the four-minute mark.
Both Griner and Hayden had 11 points at halftime.
The Lady Vols began the second half scoring eight of the first 12 points as Simmons canned a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 45-24.
Tennessee continued to battle and chip away, but the margin never got below 19 points in the second half. A Williams’ jumper made the score 70-50 with three minutes left. Nia Moore’s layup with 93 seconds left, cut the score to 72-53.
The Lady Vols return home to host No. 1 Stanford on Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports Net and the Lady Vol Network.