KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee beat opponent UMass, and they did it mostly without key player and senior guard Jordan Horston.
After an upset loss to No. 14 Ohio State, the Lady Vols took on the unranked UMass Minutewomen as their first opponent in Thompson-Boling Arena of the regular season.
Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper stated that she “knew it was going to be a tough game,”, especially with such a quick turnaround after the Ohio State match. However, both Harper and the players agreed that it felt good to get their first win of the season under their belt.
“The best thing to happen after a loss is another game,” Harper said.
Horston was the lead scorer for the first quarter before she limped off the court to the locker room midway through the second quarter. Following the game, Harper announced this was due to a lower leg injury and was unable to offer any further details at the time of the postgame press conference.
It’s hauntingly similar to the events a year ago when key player Rae Burrell left the home opener in the second quarter due to a knee injury and was unable to play until midway through the season. In addition to Burrell, Horston and other players such as Keyen Green also suffered injuries throughout the 2021-2022 season.
However, players such as Rickea Jackson and Tamari Key stepped up in the second half, leading the Lady Vols to the 9-point victory. Jackson was the high scorer of the game with 24 points, followed by Key with 13 and 3 blocks.
When asked about Horston leaving the game, Jackson said “I feel like that motivated all of us. Jordy’s the heart of this team…we came together after [she] went down so I feel like we had her back.”
In other offensive victories, Tess Darby hit three 3-pointers, and the team overall hit 41.9% from the field compared to UMass’s 30.8%.
However, the Minutewomen stayed competitive until the very last seconds of the game, even out-rebounding the Lady Vols. UMass head coach Tory Verdi spoke on this underlying achievement.
“For us to out-rebound a team that is second in the country in rebounding is pretty significant,” Verdi said. “And rebounding is effort, it’s a want-to, it’s a mindset…I’m extremely proud of them…you want to be the best, you got to go play the best.”
Sam Breen also served as a major contributor to UMass’s close-scoring game, totaling 18 points, 12 rebounds, and a steal.
Tennessee is back in action against No. 11 Indiana on Monday, Nov. 14th at 6 p.m. ET in Thompson-Boling Arena. If Horston remains injured, veterans and newcomers alike will be put to the true test to see who is able to step up and compete without the key player.