Tennessee’s Lady Vol basketball program was 49-7 all-time against Alabama entering Monday night’s contest.
Despite the one-sided affair historically, the Crimson Tide had won five-straight against the Lady Vols. The last time Alabama entered Thompson-Boling Arena, they won 72-63 on Feb. 15, 2018 to win their first ever game in Knoxville.
First-year Tennessee coach Kellie Harper was 7-0 against Alabama as a player. Harper remained undefeated against the Crimson Tide in the latest match-up thanks to Rennia Davis when the junior forward hit one of the more incredible shots Thompson-Boling has seen in years.
With 0.3 seconds remaining, Davis drained a 28-foot three with UT trailing by one to give the Lady Vols a 65-63 win. The win moves Tennessee (15-3, 5-1 SEC) into second place in the SEC standings.
“I’m glad we were able to find a way to get a win,” Harper said following the game. “That’s a pretty tough basketball game that we played tonight. They made a bunch of shots going down the stretch. I’m proud of our team for hanging in there. It was tough.”
Harper joked with Davis in the locker room following the win that she was going to tell everyone the game-winner was exactly what they drew up. But in the midst of the madness, Harper didn’t even think her star player had gotten the shot off in time.
“I told Rennia, ‘You do know I’m going to go in there, and I’m going to tell them that’s exactly what we drew up. I want you to dribble it around, do a step-back three from the volleyball line, and by the way, shoot it so high that there’s no time left on the clock when it goes in,'” Harper explained. “I’m just thankful she made that shot.”
The shot Davis got off just before the buzzer was, in a way, what she was looking for.
“It was somewhat what we drew up, but the step-back is kind of my shot,” Davis said. “So, I just was looking for that shot. I knew my teammates were looking for me to shoot the ball. I knew they were all getting ready to rebound, so I was just trying to make a play.”
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair. Tennessee entered the final frame with a 41-37 lead, but Alabama (11-7, 1-4 SEC) quickly turned up the heat on offense. Despite the Lady Vols extending their lead to 52-44, the Crimson Tide went on a 15-6 run to claim a 59-58 lead with 1:24 remaining in the game, their first lead of game.
Rae Burrell responded to the Alabama surge with a jump shot on the baseline to give the Lady Vols the lead back. Following a jumper from Johnson to put Bama back in front, Burrell drained two free throws on the other end to take a 62-61 lead with 19 seconds remaining. Johnson responded to Burrell’s free throws with two free throws of her own.
Tennessee had the ball with 15 seconds remaining, trailing by one. Lou Brown got a wide open look from three and missed what would have been the go-ahead basket. Luckily for Tennessee, Alabama couldn’t grab the rebound. It bounced out-of-bounds allowing Davis to get one more look at the basket.
“I kind of did think it was going in,” Davis said. “I had practiced this shot enough, even though it was 30 feet from the basket. It’s actually a shot that I practice. I was just grateful it went in.”
Davis finished with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting and nine rebounds. She took one three all game — the game-winner.
“If anybody’s going to make that, it’s going to be Rennia,” Harper said. “She shoots it with pretty good arch, maybe not quite so much arch, because remember she had to get the time off the clock, so they wouldn’t have time left.”
Alabama forced Tennessee into 20 turnovers on the night. The Tide only scored 11 points off of those turnovers. But at the end of night, it took a miracle shot for the Lady Vols to snap their losing streak to the Crimson Tide.
“Credit to (Rennia) Davis on making that shot,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “She could probably go out there and shoot 10 more and not make one… We would like to have forced her left, but I thought we made her bobble it. She just made a big shot. It is tough. I’m not sure we are disappointed in the shot that we gave them.”
Tennessee now turns its attention to No. 3 Connecticut. Tip-off with the Huskies on Thursday night is scheduled for 7 p.m.