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12/29/2013 | Knoxville, Tenn. (Thompson-Boling Arena) | Attendance: 12046
Sunday, December 29, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –Homecoming was not so sweet for Lipscomb head coach Greg Brown and his Lady Bisons Sunday afternoon. Playing the highest ranked opponent in school history, Lipscomb fell 110-42 to the fifth-ranked Lady Vols at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The loss dropped Lipscomb to 3-8 on the year, while Tennessee improved to 11-1.
“It’s Tennessee basketball, and that’s what we told them,” Brown said. “The word I used was ‘relentless.’ Fortunately, we don’t have to beat Tennessee to win a conference championship. That’s what we talked about in the locker room.
“I asked them what lesson they learned from today and that is what we’ve got to carry into the game on Thursday. For them to see the level and expectation of excellence — that’s what Tennessee is — and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it and try to carry that on to my team.”
With Tennessee leading 5-0, Maya Dillard put Lipscomb on the board with a free throw before Sara Bliss drained a 3-pointer at the 18:16 mark to cut the deficit to 8-4. From there Tennessee would torch the nets by hitting 13 of its next 16 shots and racing out to a 39-11 lead just 12 minutes into the game.
Height played a major role in the game. Tennessee had six players standing 6’2 or taller, while Lipscomb had only two over 6-foot. The Lady Vols outrebounded Lipscomb 61-31 and also collected 10 blocks.
“Physically they’re superior. We told them that,” Brown said. “What we try to do is positioning. I thought we were out of position some and that’s the stuff we have to learn. We’ve got a lot of young players who have never been in this environment.
“Tennessee did a good job of exploiting and doing what they had to do. They did not take a possession off. In the end, they were still demanding the ball inside and working the angles. They were still doing the stuff that they had worked on in practice.”
With Chandler Cooper out, Brown tried to spread the offense and play an inside-out game, hoping to get Ashley Southern and Danay Fothergill involved early and often.
Southern was called for three early fouls and scored only two points and one rebound when Lipscomb entered the half trailing 62-29. Fothergill led the team at the break with 11.
“That’s exactly what we talked about,” Brown said. “We were trying to play a different game than Tennessee. The deal was to get the bigs to contain Danay and Ashley on the perimeter, kind of put our smalls inside a little bit.
“In the first half, we didn’t make any shots although we did get some good looks at the basket. They took nine more shots than us. Tennessee’s going to make you rush the ball and make you do some things. They definitely did it.”
The Lady Bisons were 10-of-35 from the floor in the first half for 28.6 percent. Tennessee made 23-of-36 shots for an eye-popping 64 percent.
As much as it struggled in the first half, Lipscomb struggled even more in the second, scoring only 13 points in the period against Tennessee's feisty defense.
Southern and Fothergill scored the first six points for the Lady Bisons, as the two teams traded buckets for the first three minutes of the half.
Tennessee’s stingy defense took over the game and forced Lipscomb into nine second half turnovers, ending the game on a 40-7 run.
Fothergill finished as the only double-figure scorer for the Purple and Gold with 13 points. She grabbed three rebounds and was perfect from the charity stripe, going 3-for-3.
On multiple occasions, Fothergill drove the lane for what looked to be a wide open layup, but the towering Lady Vols defense stood firm to deny the bucket.
“It was good after the first step,” Fothergill said. “But once I got in there, they were big.
“It was a great experience playing an SEC team like that. You learn the little things that we need to get better at. We did some good things on offense that we can take away. We need to learn to transition more and rotate better. We have to take some good things from today if we want to get better.”
Bliss scored all nine of her points in the first half after hitting three treys.
Southern fell short of a double-double for only the third time all season, finishing with season lows- eight points and five rebounds.
Elise Spann scored a career-high seven points on 2-of-6 shooting, while also grabbing four boards.
The Lady Bisons finished the contest 15-of-67 from the floor and a season-low 22.4 shooting percentage. There are not many teams Tennessee would not have beaten with the way it shot the ball today. It hit 44-of-76 shots for a season-high 58 percent.
Six Lady Vols reached double-figures. Isabelle Harrison led the way with a career-high 26 points and 15 rebounds. She also chipped in four steals and three blocks in just 18 minutes of play.
Meighan Simmons poured in 15 points behind 4-of-5 shooting. Cierra Burdick was credited with a double-double after scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 boards. Mercedes Russell finished the day with an impressive stat line- 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
Lipscomb can now look forward to ‘next year’ after finishing up its SEC-laden non-conference schedule. The Lady Bisons return to action after New Year’s, making a trip to ETSU Jan. 2 for a 6 p.m. tip.
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