Shekinna Stricklen’s heave from half court hit the glass wide left and fell to the floor, leaving the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks to celebrate their first ever victory in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Pat Summitt’s team fell to the Razorbacks in overtime 72-71 Thursday night, ending the Lady Volunteers’ three-game win-streak and continuing the team’s inconsistent season.
The No. 10 Lady Vols (20-8, 11-4 SEC) knew sweeping the Razorbacks this season would not be easy after embarrassing them in Fayetteville earlier this year.
“There’s no way we should have beaten that team the way we did in Arkansas,” associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “We knew this was going to be a totally different game tonight.”
The Razorbacks (21-6, 10-5) led for most of the game thanks to hot shooting (50 percent from the field), including eight 3-pointers, with three scorers in double-figures.
A slow first half doomed the Lady Vols, as Stricklen and fellow senior Glory Johnson were held scoreless.
However, a second half surge, including a powerful post attack from both Johnson and Stricklen, brought the Lady Vols back and forced overtime.
Arkansas was then able to climb to a six-point lead late in overtime when a Stricklen three closed the gap to 67-70 with 1:30 left in the extra period. An Arkansas shot clock violation followed by another Stricklen basket cut the lead to one with less than 30 seconds to go.
Another Arkansas turnover and foul put Stricklen at the line with 10 seconds left, where she missed both, putting Tennessee into desperation foul mode. It was then with 2.6 seconds and down by three that Stricklen’s Hail Mary shot went unanswered and the final horn sounded.
“I wanted the ball at the end, and I missed four free throws in a row,” Stricklen said. “We knew that was a good team, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. Starting the game we weren’t focused and it came back to bite us.”
The Razorbacks took a 31-26 lead into halftime thanks to red-hot 58 percent shooting from the field, including 50 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Meanwhile, the Lady Vols went into the locker room shooting 45 percent.
However, UT was able to force 14 turnovers in the first half, converting them into 13 points.
Tennessee went into the half being outrebounded 14-8, with no player in double-figure scoring.
Stricklen led the Lady Vols with 17 points, and Johnson pitched in with 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Sarah Watkins and Lyndsay Harris led the way for the Razorbacks with 18 and 20 points, respectively.
The Lady Vols close out their regular season at home against the Florida Gators on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.