KNOXVILLE, TN- Senior center Mercedes Russell logged her 46th career double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead Tennessee, but it wasn’t enough as the No. 12/13 Lady Vols (25-8) fell to No. 13/12 Oregon State (25-7) in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Freshman Anastasia Hayes also had a double-digit outing for the No. 3 seed Lady Vols, posting 10 points and four assists, while classmate Rennia Davis pulled down 11 rebounds.
Oregon State, the No. 6 seed, was led in scoring by Mikayla Pivec with 18 points. Marie Gulich, Katie McWilliams and Kat Tudor also reached double figures for the Beavers with 14, 13 and 12, respectively, as OSU picked up its first win over UT in five tries.
The Lady Vols launched a balanced attack in the first quarter with all five starters scoring at least two points in the first seven minutes of the game. Senior Jaime Nared knocked down a 10-foot jumper on Tennessee’s first possession to open the scoring for the Lady Vols. Tennessee entered the media timeout with an 8-5 lead, and a 6-0 run following the timeout put the home team ahead 14-5 with 3:22 to go in the quarter. Tennessee’s high-energy defense forced six turnovers in the opening period, translating into six points on the offensive end.
The Lady Vols maintained a 10-point lead until the 7:35 mark of the second quarter, when Tudor knocked down two free throws to set off a 9-0 run that put the Beavers within one with just over five minutes remaining in the half. She hit two more free throws with 2:44 to play to give Oregon State its first lead of the game at 24-23. Tennessee reclaimed the lead off a Davis three at the buzzer to take a 26-24 lead into the break.
The two teams traded baskets through the first two minutes of the third quarter until the Beavers managed a 5-0 run that put them up 33-30 at the 7:20 mark, but Tennessee answered with a 7-0 run of its own to lead 37-33 going into the media break. Oregon State scrapped back, fueled by a McWilliams three pointer, to claim a 44-39 lead by the end the period.
The Lady Vols were cold shooting from the floor in the fourth, and the Beavers outscored them 10-3 over the first six and a half minutes of the quarter for a score of 54-42 at the 3:30 mark. Despite threes by Nared and Meme Jackson and a trio of layups by Russell in the closing minutes, Tennessee couldn’t overcome the deficit and fell 66-59 in Thompson-Boling Arena. The loss snapped UT’s 57-game home court NCAA winning streak and saw the Big Orange fall to 28-2 all-time in the second round.
Seniors In The Record Books: Mercedes Russell logged 46 double-doubles in her time at Tennessee, surpassing Candace Parker (45) to trail only Chamique Holdsclaw (57) for the most career double-doubles. Additionally she is one of only six Lady Vols to record 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds and ranks third all-time in total rebounds (1,085), fifth in blocked shots (195), fifth in field goal percentage (.583), and sixth in rebound average (8.0 rbg.).
Jaime Nared recorded 11 games with 20+ points in her senior season and 20 over the course of her career. She ranks fifth all-time in free throws made (429) and fifth in free throw percentage (.828). She averaged 16.7 points per game on the season, the eighth highest average of any Lady Vol senior.
Kortney Dunbar went 19-51 from behind the arc this season to post the highest three-point shooting percentage of the 2017-18 season (.373).
Courtesy: University of Tennessee Athletics