UT Lady Vols collapse against Alabama 86-65 as losing streaks grow
Tennessee fell again Thursday night, and this time the Lady Vols went down hard.
There were no close calls for a stunning change. Alabama tore through UT for an 86-65 victory at Coleman Coliseum, extending its winning streak in the series to five and Tennessee's current losing streak to four games.
Tennessee hadn't lost four in a row since 1970, when Joan Cronan, who later became the Lady Vols' athletic director, was the coach and the Lady Vols lost all six of their games for the season.
The No. 17 Lady Vols (12-5, 1-4) collapsed in the fourth quarter and were outscored 26-10. The loss dropped them to 13th place in the conference standings.
"We didn't have any energy, no emotion," UT coach Holly Warlick said in a postgame interview on the Lady Vols' radio network. "It was hard to watch."
Cierra Johnson led five double-figure scorers for Alabama (10-8, 2-3) with 17 points. The Crimson Tide shot 50 percent from the floor in ravaging all of Tennessee's defensive alignments. The Tide had an edge in nearly every statistical category and led for a staggering 37 minutes, 24 seconds.
Evina Westbrook scored 19 points to lead UT. Zaay Green scored 14. The three other starters had just eight points, however. Forward Rennia Davis, Tennessee's second-leading scorer, didn't score, missing all five of her field goal attempts.
Tennessee shot 33 percent from floor and was 3 for 21 in the fourth quarter. The Lady Vol never led by more than one point and never led at all after the second quarter.
"We just didn't play hard; we didn't play hard," Warlick said. "We didn't play with any energy, any emotion, any heart. Alabama played with more heart and energy than we did."
Freshman Rae Burrell, who scored 12 points, said the Lady Vols need to "have more heart."
"We just need to come together," Burrell said, "yeah just come together and figure out what needs to be done to move on from this point."
Alabama came into the game shooting 38.9 percent from the floor and 31.2 percent on 3-pointers. They padded those percentages at UT's expense from the outset, hitting 53 percent in the first quarter over the Lady Vols' zone.
Jasmine Walker's trey, one of three by the sophomore forward in the first half, gave Alabama a 17-12 lead before UT closed to within 22-18 to end the first quarter.
Another Walker jumper pushed Alabama's lead to six points (28-22) before UT struck back to lead briefly at 32-31 following a Green 3-pointer.
Against Alabama's zone, UT needed some good fortune for its points. A Davis' 3-point attempt hit the side of the backboard. But the Lady Vols corralled the offensive rebound and Green hit a jumper.
A second-chance jumper by Westbrook kept UT within 36-34 at the break.
Tennessee stumbled out of the locker room to start the third quarter, falling behind 45-36 after Megan Abrams' steal and breakaway layup.
The Lady Vols scrambled to within two points on two occasions but were unable to muster enough defensive stops. The Crimson led 60-55 entering the final 10 minutes.
Alabama steadily pulled away thereafter, leading by as many as 24 points down the stretch.
"We're stuck in the mud right now," Warlick said. "Something is zapping our energy and we've got to get it straightened out."
Tennessee returns home to play Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Monday. It will be UT's "We Back Pat" game to bring awareness to the foundation of former UT coach Pat Summitt and the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
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