Lawson’s 31 Help Lady Vols Beat Vandy
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Kara Lawson scored a career-high 31 points and made all six 3-pointers she attempted as No. 3 Tennessee beat No. 17 Vanderbilt 91-71 Thursday night to clinch the Southeastern Conference regular-season title for the sixth straight season.
Gwen Jackson added 19 points, reserve Shanna Zolman had 16 and Shyra Ely 14 points for the Lady Vols (25-3, 13-0), who put the game away with a 16-0 run late in the second half.
The Commodores (18-8, 8-5) were led by Chantelle Anderson, who scored a season-high 35 points. Anderson dislocated her right toe in Vanderbilt’s 81-67 loss to Tennessee on Feb. 2.
Abi Ramsey was 6-of-9 from behind the 3-point line, finishing with a career-high 20 points for Vanderbilt, which is 0-18 in Knoxville and has lost four straight to Tennessee.
Tennessee led nearly the entire game, but Vanderbilt was able to stay close because of Anderson’s inside presence and Ramsey’s outside shooting.
The Commodores pulled within nine with 7:21 to go after a basket by Anderson, but they could not get closer. The Lady Vols then put the game away with their decisive run over the next three minutes.
Jackson scored two baskets, Lawson hit a 3, Zolman scored twice and Brittany Jackson had four free throws as Tennessee went ahead 84-59 with 4:11 left.
Anderson ended Vanderbilt’s drought with a pair of free throws, but it was too late for a rally.
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt presented flowers to Anderson and Ashley McElhiney, the Vanderbilt seniors who have played well against Tennessee during their careers.
But Tennessee’s two seniors, Lawson and Gwen Jackson, stepped up in their final regular-season game.
Lawson was 9-of-12 from the field and made all seven free throws she attempted. She shook her head after scoring a 3 and flexed her arms like a bodybuilder after the Lady Vols were ahead for good.
Tennessee led 35-32 at halftime before Lawson hit two 3-pointers and Jackson scored five points early in the second half as the Lady Vols went ahead by eight.
Ramsey hit back-to-back 3-pointers for Vanderbilt, Shanna Zolman hit a 3 and Lawson had a driving layup to put Tennessee ahead by 10 with 15:38 remaining.
Anderson scored Vanderbilt’s first 14 points of the game and had 18 by halftime. No other Commodore scored until Ramsey’s 3-pointer with 7:43 remaining in the first half.
Anderson’s presence was frustrating the Lady Vols during the first half. Ely tried to grab an offensive rebound from Anderson under the Tennessee basket but lost it and shoved Anderson with her forearm. Ely was called for a technical foul.