COLUMBIA, Mo. – Tennessee used an 8-0 run over the last minute and a half to erase a five-point deficit and seize a 68-65 win over Missouri on Sunday afternoon at Mizzou Arena, keeping its conference record perfect at 8-0 and winning its ninth-straight game.
The 8-0 record in league play is UT’s best start to the SEC schedule since the Lady Vols opened at 13-0 in 2014-15 en route to a 15-1 league record and regular-season title.
Sophomore Sara Puckett was 7-of-9 on the day in Mizzou Arena and went a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc, hitting a game-tying trey with 40 seconds on the clock to finish with a season-high 17 points for Tennessee (16-6, 8-0 SEC). Senior Rickea Jackson was also in double figures with 15 on the day, pushing her team ahead with a second left by scoring inside, drawing a foul and sinking the free throw for the final margin.
Missouri (14-6, 3-4 SEC) was led by Hayley Frank, who posted a game-high 26 points and Jayla Kelly who finished with 14.
Jackson won the tip and wasted no time getting UT on the board, sinking a three just seconds into the game. She went on to start the contest 3-of-3 from the floor to propel UT to an 11-6 lead by the midway point of the first. Following the media timeout, Jasmine Franklin scored five points over two possessions to put the Lady Vols up by 10 at the 3:30 mark. Frank converted on a three-point play on Mizzou’s next possession, and Ashton Judd knocked down a trey on the next play to narrow the score to 16-12 just over a minute later. Puckett responded with a 3-pointer on the other end, and Jillian Hollingshead followed it up with back-to-back buckets to put the Lady Vols up by 11 before MU closed out the quarter with a pair of free throws to send the game into the second period with UT leading 23-14.
The Tigers opened the second quarter with five straight points to pull within four with 8:57 left in the half. A jumper by Karoline Striplin on the next play gave UT a six-point advantage, and the teams traded buckets through the 3:48 mark when Darby and Striplin scored on consecutive possessions to put the Lady Vols up 33-25. Frank answered with a jumper at the 1:50 mark and neither team was able to score in the closing seconds, making the halftime score 33-27.
Frank hit a jumper 16 seconds into the second half and went on to score eight points of a 10-2 Missouri run spanning two and a half minutes that gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 37-35. Jackson ended the skid for UT, floating through the lane to hit a six-foot jumper and tie the game at 37-all. Mizzou went on to lead by as many as seven before an 11-0 Tennessee scoring streak contributed to by five different Lady Vols had the Big Orange leading 51-47 by the end of the quarter.
MU put together an 8-2 run to open the fourth, reclaiming the lead at 55-53 with 7:34 left in the game. Puckett responded with a three from the top of the arc in what would be the first of four lead changes over the next three minutes before Frank drained a trey with 3:28 on the clock to put the Tigers up 62-58. Franklin drove into the lane and went up strong to hit a layup with 1:46 left in the contest, but a 3-pointer by Frank on the other end gave Missouri a five-point advantage with 1:25 to go. Jordan Walker came up with a steal under UT’s basket and converted on the layup, and Puckett banked in her third trey of the game with 40 seconds remaining to even the score at 65. Tennessee’s defense got the stop on the next possession as Puckett came up with the rebound, and Jasmine Powell found Jackson in the lane who hit a turnaround jumper and drew the foul with 1.1 seconds left on the clock, converting on the free throw to put the Lady Vols up by three. Missouri was able to heave a three up at the buzzer, but it clanked off the backboard, and the Lady Vols claimed a 68-65 win in Mizzou Arena.
UP NEXT: The Lady Vols will return home to host No. 5 UConn at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday in a contest that will be broadcast on ESPN. ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm will be on site for the event, going live from inside Thompson-Boling Arena beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
1K FOR FRANKLIN: With 2:17 left in the game against Missouri, Jasmine Franklin pulled down an offensive rebound to bring her career total to 1,000. She closed out the day with four rebounds, moving her total to 1,001.
CLEANING UP THE PAINT: After being out-rebounded on the offensive glass 8-2 and giving up 10 second-chance points in the first half, the Lady Vols flipped the script, winning the offensive rebounding battle 8-2 in the second half without giving up a single second-chance point.