- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Stanford returns home searching for answers after a disastrous trip through the state of Tennessee.

Three days after getting stunned by Chattanooga, the seventh-round Cardinal trailed from start to finish Saturday in a 59-40 loss at No. 11 Tennessee.

Stanford (6-4) has lost back-to-back games for the first time since December 2010 and has been held below 50 points for the first time since the 1976-77 season. Stanford had fallen 54-46 at Chattanooga on Wednesday.

“Well, we’ve played a lot better than that,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “To compliment Tennessee, they came out with a lot of energy. They worked really hard. They were extremely physical. I don’t think we adjusted.”

Stanford had won the last three games in this annual series by getting huge performances from post players Nneka Ogwumike in 2011 and Chiney Ogwumike in 2012 and 2013. Now that both sisters are in the WNBA, Tennessee (9-2) had a much easier time slowing Stanford’s offense.

The Cardinal committed 20 turnovers and had only two assists against Tennessee. Stanford shot 25.5 percent overall and was just 7 of 33 on two-point attempts. Never before in Tennessee’s storied history had the Lady Vols held a top-10 opponent to such a low point total.

“I definitely think Stanford missed them on the inside, and we tried to take advantage of that,” Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick said. “We knew they didn’t really have that inside presence as they had in previous years, so we wanted to play inside-out for sure.”

Stanford trailed 27-15 at the intermission after shooting 5 of 21 and committing 12 turnovers in the first half. After Lili Thompson’s 3-pointer cut the Lady Vols’ lead to 31-22 with 14:44 remaining, Tennessee’s Ariel Massengale scored the game’s next eight points.

Massengale sank four 3-pointers and scored 14 points in a span of just over five minutes to spark a 16-2 run that put the game away. Massengale finished with 18 points as Tennessee earned its fifth straight win.

“We definitely knew coming in we needed to make a statement,” said Tennessee forward Bashaara Graves, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds. “I definitely think we did that.”

Thompson scored 13 points for Stanford, but none of her teammates had more than six. Amber Orrange, who was averaging 13.4 points, shot 1 of 10 and had four points.

“It was a much more physical game than our team was ready for, and their size really bothered us on their switching,” VanDerveer said. “Obviously, we turned the ball over a lot and we missed a lot of, I think, very makeable shots. So it’s disappointing.”

TIP-INS

Stanford: The Cardinal shot below 30 percent for a second straight game. Stanford had shot 27.7 percent in its loss to Chattanooga,

Tennessee: Redshirt freshman guard Jannah Tucker played Saturday for the first time in two years. Tucker redshirted last year while recovering from a knee injury that also prevented her from playing her senior season in high school.

PREGAME RALLY

About 100 fans gathered at the Pat Summitt Plaza across the street from the arena for a pregame rally to keep the Lady Vols nickname and logo for all women’s sports. Tennessee announced last month that all women’s sports other than the basketball team would simply be named the Volunteers starting next year.

DIFFERENT RANKINGS

This was just the second time in the 32-game history of this series that Tennessee and Stanford had faced each other with neither team ranked in the top five. The only other time it happened was when No. 7 Tennessee beat No. 8 Stanford 84-77 on Dec. 30, 1990.

UP NEXT

Stanford: Hosts UC Davis on Monday.

Tennessee: Hosts No. 16 Oregon State on Dec. 28.

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