Lady Vols top Texas despite Fussell’s best
Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 7:00 pm
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Tennessee’s varied and balanced attack outweighed a career-high 31 points from Texas’ Chassidy Fussell as six players scored in double figures for the 13th-ranked Lady Vols in a 94-75 romp over 18th-ranked Texas on Sunday.
Fussell, who played high school basketball at Obion County Central, racked up the points on the team she grew up rooting for, but it was not enough for the Longhorns.
“I had a rough start but just kept after it and kept playing hard,” Fussell said.
Meighan Simmons, from the San Antonio suburb of Cibolo, Texas, poured in 18 points to lead Tennessee. Ariel Massengale and Taber Spani had 15 points apiece for Tennessee and Cierra Burdick and Bashaara Graves scored 14 each. Graves also had 10 rebounds. Jasmine Jones added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Vols (7-1).
Tennessee shot 46.8 percent from the floor and held the Longhorns to 34.3 shooting in winning for the fourth straight year against Texas.
The Longhorns (6-2) stayed within reach until the final minutes thanks to Fussell and by hitting 24 of their 28 free throws. Fussell was 10-of-10 at the line, the fourth-most made free throws without a miss in school history.
Nneka Enemkpali was the only other Longhorn player in double figures with 15 points and eight rebounds. Texas had 17 turnovers to Tennessee’s 12.
Fussell had missed the last two games with a head injury. She was 10 of 10 from the free-throw line on Sunday and recorded the third 30-plus performance of her career and the first for a Longhorn this season.
Texas shot 25 percent and trailed 45-27 at halftime.
“In the first four or five minutes, we played great defense but then we didn’t rebound when we made them take bad shots,” Texas coach Karan Aston said. “If we had been able to make a couple of critical stops, things might have been a little different.”
The Longhorns cut the Tennessee lead to 78-68 on a Fussell 3-pointer with 6:57 to play before the Lady Vols finished the game with a 16-7 run.
“We quit playing hard there for a while in the second half, and we fouled too much,” Tennessee first-year coach Holly Warlick said. “That not only put them on the line but it gave Texas a chance to rest. I wanted a faster game; we controlled the tempo, but not necessarily in the way we wanted to.”
Simmons showed the nerves associated with playing before her friends and family in the opening 10 minutes but settled down and spurred the Lady Vols at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second.
“Meighan was a little excited with so many of her people here, but we found a way to calm her down and she played big for us beginning at the end of the first half,” Massengale said.
Tennessee leads the series against Texas 22-12 and the Lady Vols are 52-17 all-time against Big 12 teams. They are 4-0 against ranked teams, with three of those wins on the road.
This was the Lady Vols’ first game in two weeks and was Tennessee’s seventh consecutive win after a season-opening loss to Chattanooga.
Texas has lost two of three after starting the season 4-0.
“I don’t like to lose, but we saw a lot of positives about the way we played,” Aston said. “We kept fighting the whole game, and I didn’t see that a week ago (in a loss to against UCLA). We shot too quickly in the first half when we had them in foul trouble and we needed to slow down.”
Spani came off the bench to lead the Lady Vols in the first half, scoring all 15 of her points helped by a 3-for-3 showing from the behind the 3-point line.
Fussell returned from an injury that sidelined her for the past two games for her third 30-plus performance of her career and the first for a Longhorn this season.
Published in The Messenger 12.17.12