PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – The No. 11/12 Lady Vols suffered a tough loss on Sunday in the semifinal round of the 2022 Bad Boy Mowers Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis, falling 80-63 to an undefeated UCLA squad that is receiving votes in both the AP and USA TODAY Coaches Polls.
Tennessee (2-3) was led by seniors Rickea Jackson and Jordan Horston who turned in 14 and 11, respectively.
The Bruins (5-0) were hot from long range, knocking down 16 treys on 53 percent shooting from behind the arc. Charisma Osborne led that effort, hitting five threes en route to becoming the game’s leading scorer with 23 points. Kiki Rice was also in double figures with 15, and Gina Conti and Lina Sontag each turned in 12.
Tennessee got out to a 4-0 lead early off jumpers from Horston and Jackson, but UCLA quickly found its stride offensively, putting together a 10-0 run to jump out to a 10-4 lead three minutes into play. Jasmine Powell ended the slump for UT with a 3-pointer, and it became a back-and-forth affair until Jordan Walker and Powell combined for five straight points to pull the Lady Vols within two at the 2:14 mark. The Bruins once again countered, closing out the quarter with an 8-2 run to take a 26-18 lead into the second period.
Sara Puckett hit the first bucket of the second quarter, but UCLA responded with a 12-2 run to go up by 16 with 6:42 left in the half. Jackson knocked down a pair of free throws and Marta Suárez followed it up with a layup to cut the deficit to 12, but Osborne and Christeen Iwuala combined for five quick points to put the Bruins up 43-26 by the 4:28 mark. Horston drained a 3-pointer on UT’s next possession to set off a 10-0 Lady Vol scoring streak that pulled them back within seven, but a three at the buzzer by Rice pushed the halftime margin back to 10, 46-36.
Tamari Key cut the Bruins’ lead down to single digits with a layup to start the second half, but an 11-2 UCLA run stretched the score to 57-40 by the media timeout. Tennessee went cold from the floor, going without a field goal in the final six minutes but hitting seven free throws to stay within 18 as the game headed into the final period with a score of 65-47.
Horston opened the scoring in the fourth with a fast-break layup, and Jackson followed it up with a pair of free throws to pull the Big Orange back within 14. A layup by Camryn Brown put the Bruins back on top by 16 with just over seven minutes to play, and the Lady Vols failed to find momentum in the closing minutes as the teams traded baskets through the buzzer with the final score landing at 80-63.
UP NEXT: The Lady Vols will face the loser of Marquette and Gonzaga at 2:30 p.m. ET Monday in a battle for third place. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
FREE THROW MACHINE: Rickea Jackson scored 10 of her 14 points from the free-throw line against UCLA, going 10 of 12 on the night. She is 16 of 19 from the charity stripe over the last three games for a free-throw percentage of 84.2 percent.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL: Tennessee limited its turnovers to just 14 against the Bruins, marking the lowest turnover total of the season thus far.