KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-Despite a 19-point, 13-rebound effort by UT freshman Bashaara Graves, No. 2/3 Notre Dame defeated No. 9/9 Tennessee 77-67 Monday night at Thompson-Boling Arena in front of a crowd of 13,556, the largest home crowd of the season.
The loss ended a nine-game win streak for the Lady Vols dating back to Dec. 28, 2012.
The Lady Vols (16-4) kept the Fighting Irish (19-1) in check during the first half, but an early second-half surge by the visiting team was too much for Tennessee to overcome as they fell to Notre Dame for the third-straight meeting.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed in the outcome,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “We went up against a great team and a great player in Skylar Diggins. We battled. When we learn to maintain our level of play for us, we’re going to be very good. We just get in some lulls and some valleys, and that’s just part of us continuing to practice and demanding their focus. So I’m proud of their effort at times, but disappointed in the outcome.”
Diggins led the Fighting Irish with 33 points, the most against the Lady Vols this season and most since A’dia Matthews scored 34 for Kentucky on Jan. 12, 2012. Twenty-two of her 33 points came in the second half.
Graves’ double-double was her team-leading eighth of the season, and 10 of her rebounds came on the offensive glass, a career best. Nine of her 19 points came from the free-throw line, yet another career best for the freshman.
The night began with a presentation honoring Lady Vol Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt who became the 11th Vol to have a banner raised in their honor at Thompson-Boling Arena, and just the sixth Lady Vol.
Summitt’s banner was raised in the rafters alongside Daedra Charles, Brigette Gordon, Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw, and Warlick. The final three Lady Vols were in attendance for the ceremony along with Candace Parker.
The Hall of Fame coach, who led the Lady Vols from 1974-2012, accumulated 1,098 wins and eight National Championships during her tenure. Summitt became the first Lady Vol since Catchings Dec. 7, 2003 to be honored.
Tennessee will look to bounce back against Mississippi State this Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.