KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– The Lady Vols (7-5) took over in their match against UCF (6-3) Wednesday night in Knoxville.
Not only did Tennessee dominate starting in the third quarter, but every Lady Vol found their way to the scoring sheet by the end of the game. It’s the first time this has happened this season, and it’s an accomplishment that senior guard Jordan Horston says is a “confidence booster.”
Head coach Kellie Harper commented on what the team’s depth meant to her at this pivotal point in the season.
“I thought we were really efficient on offense for a second game in a row…” Harper said. “I think we’ve found some combinations that we like, and understand that we have depth, but they’ve all got to produce. Depth doesn’t help you if you don’t have people coming in and giving you productive minutes.”
However, the first half of the game looked much different for Tennessee than the second. Tennessee ran away with the game in the third quarter after shots from Sara Puckett, but not before a rocky start for the Lady Vols.
“Our urgency defensively wasn’t where it needed to be, and we just did not do a good job on the boards. Seventeen points of their first half points were off second-chance points, and that’s not who we want to be at all,” Harper said.
Horston revealed that Harper went into halftime not satisfied with their performance.
“And Coach Kellie, she got on us really really hard if you guys didn’t know that. That’s why we had a different type of game plan coming out of halftime,” Horston said, smiling. “So, it worked. We don’t wanna start like that anymore, because…she lost her voice.”
In the third quarter, players such as Sara Puckett and player of the game freshman Justine Pissott would contribute to the over 30-point lead acquired by the Lady Vols lead by the end of the game.
“My teammates have given me a lot of confidence, and now it’s just going to keep going,” Pissott said after the game.
Freshman Edie Darby, younger sister of sophomore Tess Darby, scored for her second game in a row. A student section favorite, Darby entered following chants of “We want Edie” early in the fourth quarter. When she scored her first point in a free throw, the fans cheered loudly.
“Seeing so many other people rally around her and help support her and know that she can be out there competing with us too, that makes her smile,” Edie’s older sister Tess said. “I think it makes me smile bigger even being the big sister.
A big win like Wednesday’s is definitely needed before Tennessee travels to the west coast to take on Stanford. The team is still without senior center Tamari Key for the rest of the season due to her recent diagnosis of blood clots in her lungs, but Harper shared that Key will be making the trip to help cheer on the team.
“Her voice is not loud, but it is impactful,” Harper said regarding Key’s presence on the bench. “When she speaks, there’s a lot of respect there from her teammates. They’re going to need that from her, but I think she’s going to need them as well.”
The Lady Vols take on No. 2 Stanford on the road Sunday night at 3:00 p.m. EST.