NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Rennia Davis tied her career high of 33 points to lead Tennessee (3-0) to victory over No. 16/14 Notre Dame on the road on Monday night, 74-63. It was the Lady Vols’ first victory on the road in the series since 2008.
Davis, the 6-foot-2 junior from Jacksonville, Fla., also pulled down 10 boards to record her second double-double of the season and the 20th of her career. Freshmen Jordan Horston and Tamari Key were also in double digits for UT with 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Jazmine Massengill narrowly missed a double-double, pulling down a team-high 13 rebounds and dishing out nine assists to set new career highs in both categories.
Notre Dame (2-1) was led by Destinee Walker, who finished with 18 points. Sam Brunelle pitched in 16.
Horston and Key got things started for UT, combining for UT’s first five points to knot the score at five-all just over two minutes into the game. Davis then scored back-to-back buckets to give the Lady Vols a 9-5 lead by the 6:32 mark, and another Horston 3-pointer stretched the lead to 12-7 by the media timeout with 4:24 to go in the quarter. Coming out of the timeout, Davis poured in another five points to put Tennessee up by 10. A seven-point run by the Fighting Irish cut the lead to three with under two remaining, but UT closed out the quarter with a 5-0 run of its own and took a 21-14 lead into the second stanza.
The first two minutes of the second quarter were riddled with fouls, and neither team scored anything but free throws until Key knocked down a layup off a Massengill assist to put UT up 26-16 with 7:42 remaining in the half. The Irish rallied back with a 7-2 run to cut the lead to five, but Massengill answered with a driving layup to set off a 4-0 run that put UT back up 32-23. Notre Dame again bounced back, scoring five quick points to cut the lead to four with under three minutes left in the quarter.
Senior Kamera Harris put up four points for UT, while Massengill blocked a shot on a fast break to hold Notre Dame scoreless for the final three minutes to help the Big Orange take a 36-28 lead into halftime.
Davis kicked off things in the second half, knocking down back-to-back threes to stretch UT’s lead to 42-28 less than a minute into the second half. Katlyn Gilbert hit a layup for Notre Dame to curb the run, but Tennessee answered with a Key layup and Horston trey to lead by 17 at the 8:12 mark. Tennessee maintained that margin through the media timeout, leading 54-37 with 4:05 to play in the quarter. Notre Dame rallied following the timeout, hitting threes on back-to-back possessions, but Kasiyahna Kushkituah stepped up for UT, contributing four points over two possessions and blocking a shot on the defensive end to boost the UT lead to 15 with under three in the stanza.
The teams closed out the quarter with both teams shooting free throws, and UT took a 60-47 lead into the final period.
Key and Horston scored the first five points of the final quarter to stretch UT’s lead to 17 in less than a minute, but the Irish fought back with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 11 with just over six minutes remaining in the game. That score held through the 3:38 mark, when Davis knocked down a 10-footer to stretch the lead back to 13. Anaya Peoples answered with a three on the other end and followed it up with a free throw on the following possession to slice the lead to single digits at 66-57 with 2:29 to play. With time on its side, Tennessee was able to manage the clock and convert on free throws to take a 74-63 victory out of Purcell Pavilion.