The LSU women’s basketball team attempted to mount one of those comebacks of epic proportions against the No. 10 Tennessee, but the 21-point first half margin was just too large a hill to climb as the Lady Vols escaped with the 72-67 decision Thursday at the Maravich Center.
Meighan Simmons (31 points) and Cierra Burdick (career-high 22 points) combined for 53 points including 34 in the first half as Tennessee was doubling the Lady Tigers at intermission, 42-21.
Tennessee moved to 23-5 overall and 12-3 in the SEC. LSU, meanwhile, stands at 19-10 and 7-8 in the SEC as the Lady Tigers have lost five games in a row.
Isabelle Harrison posted her 14th double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Burdick also had a double-double, as she corralled 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
The Lady Vols gained a measure of revenge as LSU upset then-#5 Tennessee on Jan. 2 in Knoxville, 80-77. This win was the 50th as a head coach of Holly Warlick, against just 13 losses in two seasons at the helm of the Lady Vols.
Down by 21 after 20 minutes, LSU battled all the way back to tie the game at 59 all on a pair of free throws from Jeanne Kenney with 3:28 left in regulation.
Kenney (17 of her team-high 21 points in the second half) keyed the comeback as LSU chipped away with a slow pace of play throughout the second half. Theresa Plaisance had a double-double for LSU with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lady Vols kept their composure and Simmons and Burdick each converted a pair of free throws to regain a two possession lead for the Lady Vols, 63-59 with 2:15 left in the game.
Simmons canned a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left in the game to put Tennessee ahead 68-63. That bomb gave Simmons her third career 30-point game and sealed the win for the Lady Vols.
Burdick knocked down two more free throws with 32.9 seconds left to put UT up 70-64. Andraya Carter blocked a Rina Hill shot with 22 seconds left for the final exclamation point for Tennessee.
The Lady Vols posted their 10th wire-to-wire win of the season, but in very unconventional fashion, fending off LSU, which trailed by double-figures for the final 14 minutes of the first half.
LSU ended up outscoring Tennessee, 46-30, in the second half.
The Lady Vols lead 42-21 at the half. Tennessee dominated the first half, taking a 30-10 lead less than 13 minutes into the game. Simmons (19) and Burdick (15) combined for 34 of UT’s 42 points. Tennessee out rebounded LSU, 26-14 in the first half and limited the Lady Tigers to just six field goals and 22.2 percent from the floor.
Tennessee closes its regular-season on Sunday as SEC regular-season champion South Carolina comes to Knoxville. That game tips at 2:30 p.m., and airs on ESPNU and the Lady Vol Network.