Lady Vols cruise past Saint Louis in NCAA tourney
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Fourth-seeded Tennessee cruised to a decisive 45-point victory over 13th-seeded Saint Louis on Saturday afternoon, winning 95-50 in front of 6,871 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
With the win, Tennessee improved to 33-2 all-time in NCAA First Round games and is a perfect 25-0 in opening round contests at home.
Senior Jordan Horston led UT (24-11, 13-3 SEC) in scoring with 21 points and eight rebounds. Senior Rickea Jackson turned in 18 on the day, graduate Jordan Walker finished with 11 points, three assists and three steals, and Tess Darby chipped in 10.
Brooke Flowers was the high scorer for the Billikens (17-18, 10-6 Atlantic 10) with 17 points. Camreé Clegg and Kyla McMakin were also in double figures with 12 and 11, respectively.
Saint Louis got on the board first with a layup by Flowers a minute into play, but Jackson responded with a trey on UT's next possession. The score was briefly knotted at four-all before an 8-0 run put the Lady Vols on top 11-4 with 5:35 to play in the first. Flowers ended the drought for the Billikens, and they pulled within five before Horston found Jackson on the fast break for a layup. Walker followed it up with a three to give the Lady Vols an 18-8 lead by the 1:40 mark. Saint Louis, however, outscored the Big Orange 7-2 to close out the period with the home team on top, 20-15, at the end of one.
A pair of free throws by Flowers to start the second quarter whittled Tennessee's lead down to three, but Walker responded with a driving layup and a steal on the inbounds play that resulted in another bucket by Horston to put UT back on top by seven. The Billikens bounced back with five quick points by Clegg to creep within two at 24-22, but a free throw by Tess Darby and a steal and score by Horston stretched the Lady Vols' lead to five by the 6:51 mark. Flowers knocked down a layup on the other end, but four Lady Vols combined to string together 21 straight points while holding SLU without a bucket for the remainder of the half to lead 48-24 at the break.
Walker and Jackson combined for six straight points in the first 90 seconds of the second half, forcing a SLU timeout and giving the Lady Vols a 30-point lead. Jackson added another basket following the timeout before Flowers hit a jumper for the Billikens at the 7:56 mark. UT led by as many as 33 off back-to-back buckets from Jillian Hollingshead and Justine Pissott midway through the quarter, but SLU closed out the quarter with a 7-0 run to pull within 26 at 67-41.
Darby opened the scoring in the fourth by draining her second trey of the game on UT's first possession. She hit another two minutes later, driving a 12-1 run that put Tennessee on top 79-42 with just over seven minutes left in the game. The Lady Vols cleared the bench in the closing minutes but kept the pressure on, outscoring the Billikens 16-8 to take a 95-50 victory.
BIG-TIME RUN: Tennessee held SLU scoreless for an elapsed time of eight minutes, 10 seconds, via a 29-0 run spanning from the 6:35 mark of the second quarter to the 7:56 mark of the third quarter. It was Tennessee's longest scoring run of the season and its third 20+ scoring run of 2022-23, having posted 22-0 streaks against both Rutgers and Wofford.
T3SS CLIMBING CAREER LISTS: Tess Darby pitched in three treys against SLU, marking the 22nd time this season she has hit multiple treys in a game and the 12th time she has knocked down three or more. Darby moved into a tie for ninth in single-season threes made all-time at UT, tying Meighan Simmons and Shannon Bobbitt. She upped her career total to 125, moving within eight treys of catching Sidney Spencer to land among the top 10 career totals in program history.
JORDY RISING ON DIMES LIST: Jordan Horston led Tennessee with four assists vs. Saint Louis, running her career total to 449. She is now tied with Michelle Marciniak (1993-96) at No. 8 on UT's career list and is three behind her head coach, Kellie (Jolly) Harper, who had 452 from 1995-99.
DIALING UP 20: The Lady Vols tallied 20+ points in three of four quarters vs. SLU. They now have scored 20 or more in 16 of their last 32 periods (8 games) and have done so in 61 of 140 frames this season. POINTS ALL AROUND: Every active Lady Vol made it onto the court against SLU, and all 14 players contributed at least two points to the victory.
UP NEXT: The Lady Vols advanced to the NCAA Round of 32 and will face the winner of fifth-seeded Iowa State and 12th-seeded Toledo on Monday. Game time and broadcast information are to be determined.