Senior night is supposed to be filled with happy memories as a chapter of life comes to a close.
Unfortunately for the Lady Vols, their senior night didn’t go according to plan.
Vanderbilt picked up its first ever win in Knoxville, 76-69 on Thursday night. As a result of the loss, Tennessee isn’t projected to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Tennessee (17-11, 6-9 SEC) led for all but 20 seconds in the first half, taking a 27-25 lead into the halftime break. After a one-sided opening half, there were five lead changes in the second half and Vanderbilt (7-21, 2-13 SEC) led for just over 13 minutes of the final 20 minutes.
To begin the second half, both teams swapped buckets. With the Lady Vols leading 32-29, the Commodores went on a 10-4 run to claim their first lead of the game, 39-36, with 4:59 remaining. Following a 4-0 run from Tennessee to tie it at 41-41, the two teams continued to swap buckets for the remainder of the quarter.
The Lady Vols finished the third frame 1-of-7 from the field and didn’t score over the final 3:12 as Vanderbilt claimed a 47-46 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Vanderbilt’s run continued well into the fourth. The Commodores churned out an 11-4 run to claim a 58-49 lead with 6:46 to go, causing Holly Warlick to call a timeout. The break in action would spark a 6-1 run for the Lady Vols, cutting Vandy’s lead to 59-55.
From that point on, Tennessee didn’t have an answer for Vanderbilt on the defensive end. The four-point Commodores’ lead would be as close as the Lady Vols would cut it down the stretch, as Vandy went on to win the fourth quarter 29-23.
The loss marked the first time ever that the Lady Vols dropped a game to Vanderbilt in Knoxville. The Commodores were 0-33 in Knoxville previously. The loss also ensures the Lady Vols will have a losing record in SEC play for the first time in school history.
Here are the biggest observations from Tennessee’s historic loss.
The senior from London turned in a fabulous performance in her final game at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Green scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. She also added a block and a steal in 28 minutes and was 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
Unfortunately, Green’s final home game ended on a sour note. Green was the only effective offense for the Lady Vols down the stretch. Vanderbilt could not defend her, as she had multiple offensive put-backs and several points in the paint.
But the game flipped on its head when Green fouled out with 3:29 remaining in the game. Once the senior fouled out, the Lady Vols were lost on the offensive end. And on the defensive end, they had nobody to stop Mariella Fasoula from scoring 19 points on five offensive rebounds.
Dominated on the glass
Aside from Green fouling out, Vanderbilt was able to escape Knoxville with a win because of its effort on the glass. Tennessee entered the game as one of the best rebounding teams – particularly on the offensive glass – in the country.
You would not have known that watching the game.
Vanderbilt out-rebounded the Lady Vols 34-22 and limited Tennessee to just six rebounds on the offensive glass. The Commodores tallied nine offensive rebounds alone. Fasoula was the biggest reason Vandy was able to win the battle of the boards, as she pulled down nine rebounds herself.
Thursday night marked the fewest rebounds (22) and offensive rebounds (6) Tennessee has pulled down all season.
Prior to the game, Tennessee celebrated the careers of Green and senior guard Meme Jackson.
Jackson, who has knocked down her fair-share of 3’s throughout her career at Tennessee, finished with eight points in her final home game. The Tennessee native was 4-of-8 from the floor, had five assists and picked up four steals.
On the season, she’s averaging 10.6 points per game.
The Lady Vols will now turn their attention to Ole Miss, who they’ll play in the regular season finale on Sunday afternoon. Tip off is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.
Tennessee will then travel to Greenville, South Carolina to take part in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Vols likely need to win the tournament in order to make it into the NCAA Tournament.