ATHENS, Ga. (UT Athletics) – No. 21/21 Tennessee pulled within one in the final seconds at No. 22/23 Georgia but couldn’t overcome a tough day offensively, falling 57-55 in Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
Senior Rennia Davis led Tennessee (13-6, 7-4 SEC) with 22 points and six rebounds. Junior Rae Burrell turned in 10 points and five rebounds, and senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah pulled down 13 rebounds to tie her career high.
Gabby Connally was the high scorer for Georgia (17-4, 9-4 SEC), finishing with 24 points. Que Morrison was also in double figures with 11 points, and Jenna Staiti grabbed 12 boards.
Davis was the first to score, driving to the basket 40 seconds into play. Morrison tied it up 30 seconds later, but both teams struggled offensively in the opening minutes, with the score remaining tied at 2-2 until the 5:15 mark when Staiti hit a layup to make the score 4-2 just before the teams went to the first quarter media timeout. Neither squad scored a field goal until Morrison hit a layup with 2:58 left in the quarter, moving the score to 7-4. Connally and Javyn Nicholson followed it up with buckets to give Georgia a 6-0 run before Davis found her way into the lane for a layup, pulling UT within five points with just over a minute to play in the opening stanza. The Lady Vols closed out the half with four points from the free-throw line to cut the deficit to two, but a jumper from Sarah Barker at the buzzer sent Georgia into the second period up 14-10.
Barker hit a free throw to move the Bulldogs’ lead to five in the opening minute of the second, but the Lady Vols rallied back within one by the 7:58 mark off buckets by Davis and Kushkituah. Connally stretched UGA’s lead back to four with a trey with 5:55 left in the half, but Tamari Key hit a pair of free throws to make it 18-16 at the media timeout. Following the break, Staiti and Connally combined to fuel a 7-0 run that put Georgia up 25-16 with 2:14 to go. Key knocked down the first of a pair of free throws, but Nicholson hit a layup on the next possession to give the Bulldogs a 10-point lead before Davis scored two points from the free-throw line to cut the halftime deficit to 27-19.
Burrell scored her first points of the game just nine seconds into the second half, sparking a flurry of high-powered offense from both teams that moved the score to 34-25 less than two minutes into the quarter. Burrell struck again at the 7:45 mark, and Key followed it up with a layup 20 seconds later to pull UT within five at 34-29. Georgia went back up seven off two free throws, but Burrell and Jordan Horston each hit jumpers to close the gap to three points with just over five minutes left in the period. Connally answered with a trey on the other end, setting off a 10-3 UGA run that put the Bulldogs up 47-37 with 2:25 to go in the third. Horston cut it to eight by the end of the period, sending the game into the final frame with the Lady Vols trailing 47-39.
Tennessee forced a turnover on Georgia’s first possession of the fourth, and Jordan Walker hit a layup on the other end to pull UT within six. Walker struck again on the fast break at the 8:14 mark, and Davis fired in a trey to get UT within one with 7:35 left in the game. Connally responded by hitting her fifth three of the game, but Burrell hit a driving layup a minute later to trim the UGA lead to 50-48. The teams traded baskets until the 3:38 mark when Coombs and Connally scored on back-to-back possessions to put UGA up 56-50. Davis rallied UT with a clutch trey with 1:32 to go, and Burrell hit two free throws to pull the Lady Vols within one again with 46 seconds left in the game. Connally was fouled on the other end but missed the first of her free throws, giving UT a chance to shoot for the win, but a contested three by Davis at the buzzer came up short, and the Lady Vols fell 57-55.
Up Next: The Lady Vols will be back on the road Thursday, heading to Missouri for an 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT matchup up on SECN+.
Kasi Crashing The Boards: Senior Kasiyahna Kushkituah has stepped up her rebounding game as of late, tying her career high of 13 boards against Georgia. She has now pulled down double-digit boards in three of the past five contests. Prior to this stretch, she’d only tallied a 10+ rebound performance once in her career.
Owning The Glass: The Lady Vols outrebounded the Bulldogs 51-47. They have now outrebounded 18 of 19 opponents on the season by an average of 12.7 rpg. The only team UT did not outrebound was South Carolina as the teams tied with 40 rebounds each.
Davis With Another 20+ Outing: Rennia Davis recorded her third consecutive 20+ scoring game, tossing in 22 vs. Georgia. She had 25 at Texas A&M and 24 vs. South Carolina prior to Sunday, and she now has six such efforts this season. That matches her career high for 20-point performances in a season and gives her 19 for her career, ranking her seventh all-time at Tennessee and one shy of tying Meighan Simmons for sixth.