Knoxville, TN -- The Georgia Bulldogs traveled to Rocky Top Sunday afternoon to take on the Lady Vols in the last regular season game for both teams. This has been a rough season for Tennessee as they recently dropped out of the top 25 for the first time in 31 years.
Three Tennessee seniors played at home for the last time and for them to be able to leave on a win, felt good. Lady Vols Head Coach, Holly Warlick said, "We hit shots today, and when you hit shots it makes you play a little harder. I think they were focused, they bought in, and now they've set a standard, they can't go back."
Bashaara Graves started off her senior night with a bang, scoring 10 points in the first half alone. Tennessee's defense was blocking shots and causing the Bulldogs to get flustered, while the offense was capitalizing on rebounds and pounding points in the paint.
This fueled the Lady Vols to an 18 point lead after one quarter, holding the Bulldogs to just four points. Graves ended her final home game with a double-double, scoring 12 points and 10 rebounds.
But we've seen this before. All season, Tennessee has struggled with finishing the game. Luckily for them, this was not one of these games.
Tennessee came out with the same intensity in the second half as they did in the first, something they've needed to do all season. The defense made it hard for the Lady Dogs to make any shots, shooting 42 percent from field goal range.
The Lady Vols managed to keep the lead for the majority of the game, increasing the lead to 25 points in the third quarter. Te'a Cooper helped keep the team's momentum alive heading into the fourth quarter. Cooper ended the game with 21 points--16 of which were in the second half.
Cooper knew this game was important, "We definitely wanted to end our regular season with a win especially for the seniors, and just to get that win and now we bring that into the SEC Tournament that will help us a lot," said Cooper.
Diamond DeShields shined bright, leading the Lady Vols with 22 points and adding 7 rebounds. Senior Nia Moore finished her last home game with eight points and six rebounds.
The Georgia Bulldogs didn't play their best basketball against the Lady Vols, and it cost them the win. Georgia ended the game with 22 turnovers that resulted in 17 Lady Vol points. Georgia Head Coach, Joni Taylor, said it was the defense that cost her team the win.
"Tennessee is extremely talented, and our team knew that they were capable of putting up those kind of numbers. Our defense let us down today," Taylor said, "they didn't do anything that we didn't expect, we just didn't handle it the way we practiced."
The Bulldogs will still head to the SEC Tournament as a top seed. Caliya Robinson led the Lady Dogs with 17 points and eight rebounds. Pachis Roberts added 13 and Tiaria Griffin had 12.
The Lady Vols will also head to the SEC Tournament to play in the second-round next Thursday.