By Chloe Levering
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —In their third match and second ranked match of the season, the Tennessee Lady Vols fell to Indiana 79-67 at home in Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena.
Indiana clearly dominated in scoring but stood out across the boards and within the paint. Indiana’s highest lead was 16 points, and the Hoosiers even out-rebounded the Lady Vols, who went through several scoring droughts for as long as almost five minutes. Additionally, Tennessee would be out-rebounded by Indiana for the second game in a row— 33 rebounds to Indiana’s 35.
“We look different on the boards and we’re not doing anything differently. We’re still practicing that,” Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said. “Right now it’s a mentality, it’s an attitude, and it’s a mindset. Right now we’re not disciplined enough on the defensive end to get box-outs.”
After Indiana went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter, Tennessee could not get back ahead for the rest of the game but did manage to close the gap to only five points in the fourth quarter.
Indiana head coach Teri Moren said “ “We knew Tennessee was not going away. We wanted to get off to a fast start, we wanted to get some points on the board.”
Moren also complimented her team’s ability to put up such a successful fight away from home.
“We knew it was going to be a tale of two really good teams going at it on the road,” Moren said. “We expected the hostile environment that was here tonight and (I’m) just really really happy with how we handled ourselves.”
Both Indiana and Tennessee have welcomed many newcomers at the start of their season. Indiana welcomed three transfers and four freshmen, but clearly are figuring things out together on the court.
“I guess I was wondering how tough of a group we had because we do have so many new faces, although they’re experienced,” Moren said.
Transfer Sara Scalia was tied in top scoring with Mackenzie Holmes, which shows that experience on the court definitely played a factor in tonight’s game, despite Scalia being a transfer.
The Lady Vols welcomed 6 newcomers at the beginning of the season and seem to still be adjusting to the court together, especially with the absence of Jordan Horston who is currently out due to a lower leg injury. Horston, who has previously been the high scorer and rebounder for many of Tennessee’s games, is currently day-to-day as far as her playing status.
When asked what lost the Lady Vols in the game, Tamari Key said “It’s just the little things that are hurting us in this game. I think we did come into today with a lot of energy. I just think we lost that fight.”
For Harper, the night’s lost fight is all about putting it all on the court.
“I think the biggest area of gross for us is just our overall toughness,” Harper said. “We’ll get better because we have to.”
However, playing these challenging teams early could be a blessing in disguise, as the Lady Vols will be put to the test early and hopefully strengthen their skills as the season progresses. Not only has Tennessee had to face two ranked opponents out of their first three games, but No. 14 Virginia Tech and No. 2 Stanford are approaching during the front half of the season in early December.
“I still think that the best thing for this team is to play teams that are going to punch them in the mouth. I really think that’s the best thing for us,” Harper said. “I would rather win. I don’t want a false idea of who we are. I know exactly who we are. And I know exactly where we need to go.”
Tennessee is back in action in the Bahamas this Thanksgiving weekend for Battle 4 Atlantis, where they will first take on Rutgers on Nov. 19 at 12 p.m. ET. They will then take on other unranked opponents Colorado and Eastern Kentucky before traveling back to Knoxville to play No. 14 Virginia Tech on Dec. 4.