Merideth Marsh scored a game-high 23 points and Vanderbilt overcame an early 20-point deficit but still lost 64-57 to fourth-ranked Tennessee on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Lady Vols remained the SEC’s only unbeaten team in conference play as they made five free throws and outscored the Commodores 7-2 over the final 1:29.
Vanderbilt is winless in 25 games all-time at Tennessee.
“It shows that we can pull through in a close game and I'm proud that we did pull through,” Lady Vols’ guard Angie Bjorklund said. “At the same time, we need to learn to play a 40-minute game.”
Marsh was 5-for-8 on 3-pointers and led a proficient Commodores’ perimeter attack. Ten of VU’s 17 field goals were 3-pointers. Freshmen Elan Brown and Gabby Smith each made two and Lauren Lueders made one.
“(Marsh) is a senior; she's our rock right now,” VU coach Melanie Balcomb said. “She's doing everything she can. She's a leader. She's making shots. She doesn't want to lose. It starts with Merideth right now.”
Tennessee (16-1, 4-0 in the SEC) was just 3-for-12 on 3-pointers but forced 27 turnovers and allowed just five points in the final eight minutes. Glory Johnson had a team-high 17 points, and Kelley Cain added 14. Both had nine rebounds.
“I thought we got off to a good start, but then the bottom fell out,” UT coach Pat Summitt said. “We didn't do a good job on defense, especially defending their three-pointers. I thought our inside game was good. Kelley (Cain) and Glory (Johnson) worked well together.”
Vanderbilt (13-5, 2-3) trailed 27-7 11:52 into the contest and never led. It closed to within four, 33-29, when Brown made a 3-pointer with 1:54 left before halftime.
Jessica Mooney’s layup with 15:06 to play pulled Vanderbilt even at 45-45, the first tie since the score was 3-3.
Brown added 10 points, and Smith had nine for the Commodores.