KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tamari Key scored 18 points to lead No. 7 Tennessee to a 91-41 rout of University of Tennessee Chattanooga on Monday night.
The Lady Volunteers (11-1) scored the first 10 points of the game and led 22-5 after the first quarter. It was never close after that. The dominating performance happened without the presence of Tennessee’s leading scorer Jordan Horston (15.1 points and 9.4 rebounds a game).
A Tennessee spokesman said Horston was out with an illness that was not COVID.
“Jordan was not feeling well at (pre-game) shoot-around,” said Tennessee coach Kellie Harper. “Then, she got worse.
“Without Jordan, (the players) didn’t blink. ‘Whatever happens, happens, and we’re gonna do it.’”
The 6-foot-6 Key was just one of the frontline players that had their way with the Mocs (2-12). Alexus Dye scored 15 points and Karoline Striplin added 12. It was the first game all season that Tennessee didn’t have a player record a double-double.
There were some impressive statistics. Of the Lady Vols’ 37 baskets, there were 30 assists. Tennessee owned a 56-24 advantage on the boards. Chattanooga was limited to 23% shooting from the field.
“We kept pounding it inside,” said Harper. “The first thing, we were looking inside. I told our team, ‘You guys push. I’ll slam the brakes on.’”
“In the non-conference games, every game is not a dogfight like (Southeastern Conference) games,” said Key. “We’re able to focus on playing Tennessee basketball.”
“We’ve gotten better in the non-conference (part of the schedule),” said Harper. “We’re playing with a little better chemistry on the court. We’re having some battles and being tested. We enjoy it. But, there are so many ways we have to get better.”
Amari Pugh scored 17 points to lead Chattanooga.
“Bottom line, (Tennessee) knocked down shots and we did not,” said Mocs coach Katie Burrows. “We stayed true to ourselves and we never backed down.”
As a player at Chattanooga, Katie Galloway spent her last three years being schooled by assistant coaches Kellie and Jon Harper, a husband-wife team, under head coach Wes Moore. Monday, Kellie Harper was the Tennessee head coach, Jon was her assistant, and Katie Galloway Burrows was in her fourth year at the Mocs’ helm.
Chattanooga: A pre-Christmas win over UNC Asheville ended a nine-game losing streak. Monday’s loss to a quality team like Tennessee was hardly a step backward as Chattanooga prepares to start over in league play.
Tennessee: The Vols’ win over Chattanooga was the second holiday test case for Harper.Tennessee players returned from their holiday break Sunday but didn’t have a practice until earlier in the day Monday. The Vols, who used the same plan last year, played well and gave Harper confidence to use it in the future.
Chattanooga: The Mocs have a road test at Jacksonville State Thursday night before beginning Southern Conference action Jan. 6.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols open Southeastern Conference play at home against Alabama Thursday night.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25