COLUMBIA, S.C. – A 28-2 run in the second half spurred No. 12/13 Tennessee to a 73-53 victory at No. 18/15 South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams on Thursday night.
It was Holly Warlick’s first win in the SEC as head coach of the Lady Vols (10-3).
Sophomore Isabelle Harrison scored a career-high tying 18 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. She also blocked a career-high seven blocks.
Four Lady Vols scored in double-figures. Harrison was joined by Taber Spani, who had a season-high 18 points, making 4 of 5 3-pointers, Ariel Massengale (13) and Meighan Simmons (10).
Tennessee has won every SEC opener since 1998.
South Carolina (12-2, 0-1) shot just 29 percent from the floor. Tiffany Mitchell scored 14 to lead USC. Ashley Bruner added 12.
Down 40-39, Tennessee scored 14 points in a row to take a commanding 53-40 lead with 11:30 left in the game.
The teams traded baskets and the lead on four consecutive possessions as Simmons’ layup put UT ahead for good, 41-40, with 16 minutes left in the half. A Harrison layup and a pair of free throws by Simmons gave Tennessee a five-point lead at 45-40. Spani took a feed from Massengale to move the margin to seven.
A layup and a jumper by Simmons extended the run to a dozen points. Kamiko Williams scored the first bench points of the game for either team on a runner for UT’s 13th and 14th points in a row. Tennessee led 53-40 with 11:33 left in the game.
South Carolina missed 11 field goals in a row as the Lady Vols took control of the game. Tennessee’s defense kept USC off the board for 5:06.
The lead continued to grow as Spani finished a fast break to put the Lady Vols ahead, 59-42 with eight minutes left.
Thursday’s game was Tennessee’s first without sophomore Cierra Burdick, who suffered a broken bone in her right hand on Dec. 31. The Lady Vols had just nine healthy players suited up for the game as Andraya Carter (shoulder) is also sidelined.
Tennessee returns to action on Sunday as Georgia comes calling in Knoxville. Gametime is set for 1 p.m., in a game that will be televised on SportSouth and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.