Notre Dame women's basketball falls to Tennessee

Anthony Anderson I Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND

A stampede of streaks were struck down by Tennessee as the Volunteers knocked off No. 15 Notre Dame, 74-63, in women’s college basketball Monday night at Purcell Pavilion.

“We need to get experience,” ND coach Muffet McGraw said afterwards. “We’re going to take our lumps early.”

With junior swing Rennia Davis tying her career high of 33 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, the Vols became the first unranked visiting team to beat the Irish in 91 games, the last such loss coming when a No. 2-rated ND club was edged 65-63 by West Virginia in February 2012.

Tennessee (3-0) also became the first visitor of any sort other than Connecticut to win at Purcell in ND’s last 115 home games, since No. 3 Baylor prevailed in December 2012.

Since that loss, the Irish had gone 110-0 against everybody not named UConn.

The Vols ended their own four-game skid at Purcell, one that was capped by their haunting 84-70 loss two years ago that featured a Notre Dame program-record comeback from 23 points down.

With Tennessee often putting five individuals 6-foot or taller on the floor Monday, the Irish — short in general and shorthanded with seven scholarship players — had little with which to counter.

The Vols swatted away a dozen Notre Dame shots. The Irish had just one block.

Tennessee dominated the boards, too, piling up a 55-28 rebounding advantage.

The visitors made 25-of-53 field goals for 47 percent, including 8-of-19 on 3-pointers. ND countered with 22-of-70 for just 31 percent, including 7-of-25 from distance.

All that kept the Irish (2-1) within reasonable distance much of the evening was forcing 28 Tennessee turnovers. ND committed 12.

Davis was 12-of-20 from the field overall and 5-of-9 outside the arc, riddling the Irish from a variety of spots.

Freshmen Jordan Horston and Tamari Key combined for 23 points and 12 rebounds for the winners, with Horston also making four steals.

Volunteer sophomore Jazmine Massengill collected game highs of 13 rebounds, nine assists and four blocked shots to go with five points.

Grad student guard Destinee Walker led the Irish with 18 points and four steals. Freshman Sam Brunelle added 16 points, but was just 6-of-18 from the field, including 2-of-11 on treys.

Sophomore Katyln Gilbert scored 12 points for Notre Dame.

Freshman Anaya Peoples netted all of her nine points in the fourth quarter, a period in which the Irish got no closer than eight points, that with 44 seconds remaining.

Leading 36-28 at halftime, Tennessee started the third quarter with a 14-4 spree over a span of 2:54 for its largest lead of the night at 50-32.

Davis, already with 18 points by halftime, hit back-to-back triples in the first 59 seconds of the third period to start the pull-away.

The Vols had little trouble winning even without sophomore guard Zaay Green.

Tennessee coach Kellie Harper announced before the game that Green suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during practice Saturday and will be sidelined indefinitely.

She was leading the Vols in scoring going into Monday’s contest at 13.0 per game and was on the All-Southeastern Conference freshman team last season.

The game was peppered by youth on both sides as each team started just one player in her final season of eligibility.

Tennessee won for just the second time in the last 10 meetings, but both those wins — the other one coming three years ago in Knoxville — entailed an unranked Volunteer club downing a ranked ND squad.

Monday’s game was the first meeting in the last 27 that neither perennial power was ranked in the Associated Press top 10.

The Irish host No. 16 Michigan State (2-0) at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Spartans’ first road game of the season.

Tennessee is home Thursday to Tennessee State.

Notre Dame’s Sam Brunelle (33) tries to get past Tennessee’s Jessie Rennie (10) during Monday night;s game at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame’s Destinee Walker (24) gets blocked by Tennessee’s Tamari Key (20) during Monday’s game at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame’s Katlyn Gilbert (10) fights for a rebound with Tennessee’s Lou Brown (21) during Monday’s game at Purcell Pavilion.