Dec. 16, 2012
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Tennessee's varied and balanced attack outweighed a career-high 31 points from Texas' Chassidy Fussell, as six players scored in double figures for the 13th-ranked Lady Vols in a 94-75 romp over 18th-ranked Texas on Sunday.
Fussell, who is from Troy, Tenn., racked up the points on the team she grew up rooting for, but it was not enough for the Longhorns.
"I had a rough start but just kept after it and kept playing hard," Fussell said.
Meighan Simmons, from the San Antonio suburb of Cibolo, Texas, poured in 18 points to lead Tennessee. Ariel Massengale and Taber Spani had 15 points apiece for Tennessee and Cierra Burdick and Bashaara Graves scored 14 each. Graves also had 10 rebounds. Jasmine Jones added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Vols (7-1).
Tennessee shot 46.8 percent from the floor and held the Longhorns to 34.3 shooting in winning for the fourth straight year against Texas.
The Longhorns (6-2) stayed within reach until the final minutes thanks to Fussell and by hitting 24 of their 28 free throws.
Nneka Enemkpali was the only other Longhorn player in double figures with 15 points and eight rebounds. Texas had 17 turnovers to Tennessee's 12.
Fussell had missed the last two games with a head injury. She was 10 of 10 from the free-throw line on Sunday and recorded the third 30-plus performance of her career and the first for a Longhorn this season.
Texas shot 25 percent and trailed 45-27 at halftime.
"In the first four or five minutes, we played great defense but then we didn't rebound when we made them take bad shots," Texas coach Karan Aston said. "If we had been able to make a couple of critical stops, things might have been a little different."
The Longhorns cut the Tennessee lead to 78-68 on a Fussell 3-pointer with 6:57 to play before the Lady Vols finished the game with a 16-7 run.
"We quit playing hard there for a while in the second half, and we fouled too much," Tennessee first-year coach Holly Warlick said. "That not only put them on the line but it gave Texas a chance to rest. I wanted a faster game; we controlled the tempo, but not necessarily in the way we wanted to."
Simmons showed the nerves associated with playing before her friends and family in the opening 10 minutes but settled down and spurred the Lady Vols at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second.
"Meighan was a little excited with so many of her people here, but we found a way to calm her down and she played big for us beginning at the end of the first half," Massengale said.
Tennessee leads the series against Texas 22-12 and the Lady Vols are 52-17 all-time against Big 12 teams. They are 4-0 against ranked teams, with three of those wins on the road.
This was the Lady Vols' first game in two weeks and was Tennessee's seventh consecutive win after a season-opening loss to Chattanooga.
Texas has lost two of three after starting the season 4-0.
"I don't like to lose, but we saw a lot of positives about the way we played," Aston said. "We kept fighting the whole game, and I didn't see that a week ago (in a loss to against UCLA). We shot too quickly in the first half when we had them in foul trouble and we needed to slow down."
Spani came off the bench to lead the Lady Vols in the first half, scoring all 15 of her points helped by a 3-for-3 showing from the behind the 3-point line.
-Texas is now 12-22 all-time against Tennessee ... the Longhorns have dropped the last four meetings with the Lady Vols.
-The Longhorns posted their most successful outing from the free throw line of the season, shooting 24-of-28 (85.7 percent).
-Today's match marked the seventh time in eight games that Texas has held its opponent to 10 or fewer fast-break points.
-UT sank five three pointers, the third most in a game this season behind Central Connecticut State (eight) and Jackson State (six).
-Texas committed a season-low 17 turnovers.
-The Longhorns were outrebounded by their opponent for the first time this season ... Tennessee held a 47-42 advantage.
-Returned from an injury that sidelined her for the past two games ... scored a career-high 31 points (9-of-19 FG, 3-of-4 3FG, 10-of-10 FT) for her third 30-plus performance of her career and the first for a Longhorn this season. -Fussell's 10-of-10 free throw performance is tied for the fourth-most free throws made in a contest without a miss in program history ... Kathleen Nash (Dec. 18, 2008), Vanessa Wallace (Feb. 8, 1997) and Andrea Lloyd (Jan. 25, 1984) hold the record with 12-of-12 performances.
-Tallied 15 points (4-of-12 FG, 7-of-8 FT) and has posted double-figure scoring in seven of the Longhorns' eight games ... also contributed eight rebounds.
-Has recorded at least one blocked shot in six straight games.
-Started her second game as a Longhorn, scoring eight points and pulling down a team-leading nine rebounds
-Took two shots in the contest, both three pointers, and converted both, tying a career-high.
Anne Marie Hartung
-Has blocked a shot in four of the last five games.
Head coach Karen Aston
Opening statement: This team that we have right now is definitely a work in progress. We talked just a few minutes ago about the fact that this was a journey. It's not the end of it right now. First of all, I do want to credit Tennessee with what I thought was a really good performance. We've watched a lot of film on them. They've been playing hard all year. They did some things that we saw on film, which were rebound the ball really well and transition really well. I thought they shot the ball really well today. At times we made runs. We defended hard. I thought they just made really tough shots, which deflates a young team that struggles to score. But I'm pleased with the second-half effort as far as we tried to make runs and showed some ability to make plays and do things in the half-court better in the second half. I thought again, we got ourselves in trouble sometimes by shooting too quickly. Overall, you're never pleased with losing. We gave up way too many points. We're not going to beat anybody giving up 90 points. But I do feel like we responded after the UCLA game to playing a good basketball team.
On the team continuing to fight in the second half: That's where I thought we grew up a little bit from the UCLA game. Obviously [junior guard Chassidy Fussell] helped us in this game tremendously having her, an older player who understands this type of basketball game, how you have to go play-to-play. I thought [sophomore forward] Nneka [Enemkpali] was a lot better in the second half. Part of it was just that we got the ball to her in the second half. Just more than anything it was mental. In the UCLA game we just didn't fight at all. I thought we kept fighting [today]. We fought until the game was over. Every timeout they were engaged in what we were saying. They were talking to each other, encouraging each other, and that's a really good sign for this team because I didn't see that a week ago. And in one week we made a lot of progress.
Junior G Chassidy Fussell
On her first game back (from injury): It was different, a lot different than practice, a lot faster than going in practice. I felt like in practice we should have gone game-speed instead of, like Coach [Aston] says, we go hard for an hour and then the next hour we don't go as hard. That was a big challenge for me. And in the beginning of the game, I went I think 0-for-7 [on shots]. It was a rough start but once I got in my flow it was good.
On if she was extra motivated to play a team from her home state: No. I'm fired up for every game. And with my teammates helping me, it keeps us all together.
Sophomore F Nneka Enemkpali
On she and freshman center Imani McGee-Stafford having to step up today: Having [senior post] Cokie [Reed] out for this game, Imani was forced step into her shoes and start. And really bring big minutes and bring a big offense in her game as well. She empowered that role - her and me both. But we did lack on offensive rebounding, rebounding in general. I feel like we could have done a better job on the inside rebounding.
On a low first-half shooting percentage: I think Tennessee brought a pretty tough defense against us. But I also feel like our shots just weren't falling for us. We were getting good shots. We were getting good position. Our shots just weren't going in.
Head Coach Holly Warlick
Opening statement: This was a great win for us. We came off of a two-week break and I was really concerned how we would come out and play. I keep stressing how hard we play and our energy. We have the talent, but it's what we do with our talent. We came out and stuck to our game plan and played hard. We had to use our entire bench, so it was a team effort and a really good win for our basketball program.
On Tabor Spani's performance: She had a breakout game. She shot the ball and wasn't worried about her offense. She kept shooting and had some big threes.
Sophomore F Cierra Burdick
On the balance of the team: I think we are extremely balanced and that's one of our strengths. We have at any moment somebody [who] can go out and score 20 [points], so the fact that we have six players in double figures, that says a lot about our team basketball.
Senior G/F Taber Spani
On having to play defensively in the post: We pride ourselves on the versatility that we can bring. We're always guarding guards and posts, so if we're thrown in that situation where we have foul trouble, we hope we can do that successfully. I was just trying to be physical with [Texas' posts] on the boards, because they're really good on the boards.