KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Lady Vols shot 59 percent from the floor to take a commanding 96-57 victory over Wright State in Thompson-Boling Arena on Sunday.
Four players were in double figures for Tennessee (6-5), with senior Rickea Jackson leading the charge with a 17-point effort on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor and a perfect 5-of-5 mark from the free-throw line. Sophomore Sara Puckett turned in a season-high 16 points, and senior Jordan Horston and graduate Jasmine Franklin each tallied 14. Franklin’s total also was a season best, coming after missing the past two contests due to injury.
WSU (1-8) was led by Emily Chapman, who managed a game-high 18 points.
Karoline Striplin kicked off the scoring, netting a 10-foot jumper on UT’s first possession, and Horston followed it up with a driving layup a minute later to give the Lady Vols a 4-0 advantage early. Makiya Miller got the Raiders on the board with an old-fashioned three-point play two minutes into the game, and the teams traded baskets until a trey by Isabelle Bolender tied the game at 12-all at the 5:07 mark. Tennessee responded with a 6-0 run over the next two minutes that put the Lady Vols ahead 18-12 with just under three minutes left in the first quarter. Chapman knocked down a three on Wright State’s next possession, pulling the Raiders within three, a margin that would hold as the game went into the second period with UT leading 20-17.
The teams swapped buckets through the media timeout of the second quarter, with Tennessee stretching its lead to five on four occasions only to have WSU trim it back to two on the next play. With 4:58 left in the half, Tess Darby drained a three to set off a 10-3 Lady Vol run that moved the score to 40-30 by the 2:12 mark. Bryce Nixon hit a trey on the Raiders’ next possession to cut it back to single digits, but Puckett closed out the half with four straight points to set the halftime score at 44-33.
UT came out with a hot hand in the third, shooting a scorching 84.6 percent on 11-of-13 shooting for the quarter. Horston scored the first basket of the half, and Darby followed it up with a three to extend the Lady Vol lead to 16 by the 8:14 mark. Bolender responded with a jumper for WSU, but Jordan Walker and Horston combined for five quick points to put the Lady Vols up by 19 a minute and a half later. The Raiders cut it back to 17 twice before Horston hit a layup to set off an 8-0 Big Orange run that stretched the advantage to 64-39 with 2:39 left in the quarter. Bolender ended the Wright State drought with a three-point play, but the Lady Vols strung together seven straight points to close out the period, capped off by a Franklin layup at the buzzer that sent the game into the final stanza with UT leading 71-42.
Franklin and Jackson combined for six straight points to extend the run to 13-0 and stretch Tennessee’s lead to 35 points with 8:33 to play. The Raiders battled back with a 10-4 run fueled by back-to-back treys, but the Lady Vol reserves outscored WSU 10-3 over the final three minutes to coast to a 39-point victory.
UP NEXT: Tennessee will close out a six-game home stand with a midweek matchup against UCF on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m., and the contest will be streamed on SECN+.
SNIPING IN THE THIRD: The Lady Vols shot a red-hot program-best 84.6 percent in the third quarter on 11-of-13 from the floor. Previously, the highest single-quarter field goal percentage was 81.8 percent recorded on two occasions, most recently in the second quarter against Tennessee Tech on Dec. 1, 2021, vs. Tennessee Tech, and during the 2016-2017 season in the second stanza against Navy on Nov. 13, 2016.
STRONG SHOOTING FOR THE GAME: Tennessee finished the afternoon 38 of 64 from the field for a season-best 59.4 percent accuracy. That mark stands as the best by the Lady Vols since hitting 61.7 percent vs. Liberty on March 16, 2018, in the NCAA First Round in Knoxville.
BALANCED ATTACK: Thirteen of 14 active Lady Vols logged at least one bucket against WSU, with seven players tallying six or more points and four reaching in double digits. It’s the third time this season UT has had four or more players in double figures.
SETTING NEW HIGHS: Sophomore Sara Puckett and graduate Jasmine Franklin each logged new season highs against the Raiders on Sunday, with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Franklin tallied those points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor. The freshmen also got in on the action with Edie Darby hitting her first collegiate bucket and Justine Pissott dishing out a career-high four assists.
DARBY FROM DISTANCE: Tess Darby knocked down two treys on four attempts against Wright State, marking the fifth game this season in which she’s hit multiple 3-pointers. She has logged 16 threes this season and is shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc.
OWNING THE BOARDS: Tennessee pounded Wright State on the glass, winning that battle in a season-best margin of 30, 45-15. The 15 rebounds by WSU tied for the second-fewest ever by a Lady Vol opponent, matching the 15 they allowed Ole Miss on Feb. 24, 2011. The record low is 13, posted by Puerto Rico-Mayaguez on Nov. 29, 2002. UT now has prevailed on the glass in eight of 11 contests, including the last five games, and out-rebounded foes by double digits on six occasions.