The Lady Vols improved to 2-0 on the season Tuesday night courtesy of a 67-50 win over East Tennessee State.
Tennessee had three players reach double-figures as it shot 44% from the field and held the Bucs to 32% shooting. Junior Rae Burrell led the way with 20 points, while senior Rennia Davis had 15 points, respectively. Sophomore Jordan Horston chipped in 12 points.
Davis has now scored double-figures in 30 straight games. She has scored at least 10 points in 44 of her last 45 games. Against the Bucs, Davis was 6-of-10 shooting to go along with four rebounds and a steal.
Here’s everything Harper said following the game:
“I’m glad we won the game. Obviously, for us, it was a little sloppy at times. Our execution needs to be better. I think the good thing is that we got to see a feisty team, a team that’s athletic on the perimeter. Hopefully, that will help us in our next few games. I’m disappointed in our execution on both ends of the court. We’ve got to get a lot better, but we’ve got time to do that, and I’m confident that we can.”
On what the team needs to do to build bigger leads:
“Our first quarter, I think we shot over 60 percent from the field. The problem was that we had too many turnovers to start the game. We just needed to get shots up. If you get shots up, then you’re putting points up on the board at a pretty good clip. I think defensively, in the second half, I didn’t think we guarded very well. I don’t think we guarded 1-on-1. We’ve got to get down and guard. That has to be a priority for us, to defend better. Really, those two things will take care of a lot. If you take care of the basketball and get more shots up, you put more points up on the board. Then, if you prioritize defending on the other end and limit some of their easy buckets, then that lead grows.”
On Rae Burrell’s performance through two games:
“We have seen this all summer and all fall. This is who she has been. She’s been consistently playing this way. She’s played so well. The difference for her is that she’s playing with so much confidence right now and making really good decisions. However, she’s still playing aggressively. I think when you’re playing aggressively, and you’re making good decisions and finishing like she is, it leads to some pretty good play. I’m really proud of her, and it’s been fun to watch her. Again, that performance is not a surprise for her.”
On what she has learned about her team through two games:
“I think our post play has been pretty consistent. I think we need to get the ball inside more. Our defense has to get better. I think that’s across the board. I think our pace has been good. Getting up and down the court has been good. Obviously, after this game, we’re a little inconsistent with our decision making. We can still get better offensively and make a big step there.”
On if the game was a good lesson for the newcomers:
“I think so. One of the things I like about this team is the options that we have. We have a little bit more depth. We have people that we can bring in. I think that’s going to require you to step your game up a little bit. You’ve got to go out and perform. That doesn’t just happen. You have you have to work for it, and it’s not always easy. Hopefully that lesson is learned, and we can still find some positive productions from all of our players moving forward.”
On how the team can improve before Sunday’s matchup against West Virginia:
“There are a couple of different things that we’re looking at now. First, we need to correct some things from this game. We need to be a better basketball team, regardless of looking ahead. I think we can be a little bit better disciplined at boxing out. We talked about taking care of the basketball, valuing it each possession – working hard on offense to get a higher percentage shot. Overall, top to bottom, our defense needs to be better. Those are things that, not only will they help us be a better basketball team moving forward, it will help us in our next game, regardless of our opponent. I think those things are really important. I think our players understand that. I was disappointed. I’m glad we won, but I was disappointed. I wish we would’ve played better. Hopefully it’s a learning experience and we have to look at it as tomorrow we have an opportunity to get better, and we need to. If we want to continue to be competitive in every game, we’ve got to find ways to get better. That’s true of any team at this point.”
On sophomore guard Jordan Horston’s impact off the bench:
“She’s obviously extremely talented. Having her come off the bench right now gives us a spark. When she comes in, you know she’s an instant impact when she’s out there. I thought she played a lot more relaxed. I thought she looked much more comfortable out there and made some plays. The game kind of came to her. She knocked down some shots. Obviously, she’s a dynamic player. I think the good thing is that we’ve got so many players that we think can make plays. So, there shouldn’t be any pressure on anybody on our team to make plays. That’s how she played tonight. She came out and just let the game come to her and found some success doing that.”