BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Jeanne Kenney didn’t sound like a player on a team stuck in a five-game slide.
She was too impressed by the way LSU climbed out of a 21-point halftime hole against No. 10 Tennessee before finally succumbing to its old Southeastern Conference nemesis.
Kenny scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half, including two 3-pointers and the tying free throws during a late 10-0 run before Tennessee regrouped to pull out a 72-67 victory on Thursday night. The defeat left the Lady Tigers in the midst of the program’s longest losing streak in 19 years.
“We came together and that’s something I haven’t seen in a very long time, and I was very proud of how we did come back,” Kenney said. “I couldn’t ask for better teammates for this game.”
Meighan Simmons led Tennessee with 31 points, including a clutch 3 in the final minute.
“That’s her,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “She’s a gutsy kid … and she makes big plays for us.”
Simmons hit five 3s in all and also made a couple of free throws to help seal the victory for the Lady Vols (23-5, 12-2 SEC), who won for the ninth time in 10 games.
“The coaches just told us to attack and I really wasn’t thinking anything. I was just thinking about scoring,” Simmons said. “They were big shots, but I think the coaches for just being confident in me.”
Cierra Burdick added a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Isabelle Harrison 11 points and 11 rebounds for Tennessee, which had to rescue the victory after allowing LSU (18-10, 7-8) to tie the score with 3:28 to go.
“We had our pride at stake,” said LSU forward Theresa Plaisance, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds. “It just took a lot of heart and determination.”
Trailing by 42-21 at halftime, LSU managed to make the game far more competitive over the final 20 minutes, and Tennessee helped by turning the ball over 11 times in the half.
Plaisance, who’d started 2 of 10 form the field, hit a pair of 3s early in the second half, the first capping a 7-0 run to start the period.
Kenney’s second 3 of the half pulled LSU to 59-52 with 5:53 left. Kenny pumped both arms at her side as the crowd rose to its feet. Two possessions later, Kenney buried another 3 from the right corner, and DaShawn Harden’s steal of Andraya Carter’s pass and fast-break layup gave the Lady Tigers eight straight points to make it a one-possession game at 59-57 with 4:35 still left.
Kenney completed the comeback, tying the score on two free throws with 3:28 left.
LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said the second half highlighted her team’s resilience, competitiveness and determination.