KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Rickea Jackson had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 5 Tennessee to a 74-65 victory over UMass on Thursday night.
Jackson, a transfer from Mississippi State, scored 18 points in the second half as the Lady Volunteers won their first game of the season after an opening loss. Tamari Key added 13 points and nine rebounds and Jasmine Franklin scored 10.
Both took over the game after Lady Vols standout guard Jordan Horston went down with an injury in the first minute of the second quarter.
”(Horston’s injury) motivated all of us,” Jackson said. ”Jordy’s the heart of the team.”
”We knew we had to pull together,” said Key.
”We got to see Rickea get going tonight,” said Tennessee coach Kellie Harper.
Horston left the game with a left knee injury less than a minute into the second quarter. Horston, a 6-foot2 senior guard, had five points and three rebounds before leaving after a collision under the basket. The extent of her injury wasn’t immediately known. She will be evaluated Friday.
UMass (1-1) was led by Sam Breen’s 18 points and 12 rebounds. Nyah Mayo scored 15 points, Sydney Taylor had 11 and Destiney Philoxy 10.
Tennessee led by as many as 19 points (65-46) early in the fourth quarter before UMass closed within 70-65 with just over 28 seconds remaining.
”We’re down 19 and we could have packed it in,” said UMass coach Tory Verdi. ”We found a way to get back in it.”
One way to get back into the game was to outrebound much taller Tennessee. The Minutewomen owned a 49-45 edge on the boards.
”For us to outrebound the No. 2 rebounding team in the country … It’s a want-to thing,” Verdi said.
Key said Tennessee needed to pursue the ball more. ”It stings for us,” she said. ”Nobody outrebounds Tennessee.”
”(Rebounding) was an issue on both ends of the court,” said Harper. ”Defensively, they shot some long shots and we weren’t disciplined with our box-outs. We need better habits.”
Tess Darby’s back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter gave Tennessee a 34-29 lead. Breen scored 10 points in the second quarter.
Horston had 20 points and 13 rebounds in the Lady Vols’ season-opening loss to Ohio State. She averaged 16.2 points and 9.4 rebounds last year before having her season cut short with an elbow injury Feb. 17.
The victory will likely do little to soften the drop that will could come in next week’s poll after Tennessee’s double-digit loss to Ohio State. The Lady Vols’ frustrating second half could prove costly. It will also give opponents a template with which to attack.
UMass: Cultivating more offensive production to go with redshirt senior Sam Breen will be a focus as the season develops. Breen, who scored 31 points in a season-opening win over Central Connecticut State, is going to need help or opponents can load up against her.
Tennessee: In their season-opening loss to No. 14 Ohio State, the Lady Vols were forced out of their comfort zone and let the Buckeyes dictate the tempo in the second half. The running game was not to Tennessee’s liking. An 18-0 Ohio State run turned the momentum and gave the Lady Vols something to work on.
UMass: Host Main on Monday.
Tennessee: Faces its second top-10 opponent from the Big Ten, hosting No. 11 Indiana on Monday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25