"These kids came in here believing that they could win this game despite the fact that we got beat badly by Tennessee," Arkansas coach Tom Collen said. "The further along we went in the game, the more they believed. They just made a lot of great plays down the stretch to finish it off."
The Lady Razorbacks snapped an 18-game losing skid to Tennessee and became the second Southeastern Conference team this season to win in Knoxville, a place where the Lady Vols previously had not lost a conference game for nearly four years. South Carolina got its first win in Knoxville on Feb. 2.
For Tennessee, it was the third loss at home this season—the most the program has ever had in a season. The Lady Vols also lost to No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 27.
Shekinna Stricklen hit a layup for Tennessee with 48 seconds left to play to cut Arkansas' lead to 70-69. The Lady Vols got the ball back when Keira Peak lost it out of bounds under the Arkansas basket
Peak then fouled Ariel Massengale to keep the Lady Vols from attempting a 3-pointer to tie the game. Massengale hit both of her foul shots, and Quistelle Williams missed a pair of free throws for Arkansas with 3 seconds left, but Stricklen couldn't get a half-court shot off before the buzzer sounded.
"I have to sink the free throws," Stricklen said. "We had a bad first half, but we came back in the second half. We fought. We just had to step up, and we didn't make the free throws in the end."
The Lady Vols held a 62-60 lead with 48 seconds left in regulation but let C'eira Ricketts run right by them and dish the ball to Sarah Watkins, who hit a layup to tie the game at 62 points with 9 seconds left and force overtime.
Watkins had 18 points, and Ricketts finished with 16 points.
Stricklen led Tennessee (20-8, 11-4) with 17 points, all scored after halftime. Glory Johnson scored all 13 of her points in the second half.
Both teams struggled with hanging on to the ball. Arkansas committed 21 turnovers and Tennessee 19.
The Lady Vols defense had some success frustrating the Lady Razorbacks, who committed four shot-clock violations.
But when Arkansas could get a shot off, it often was a good one. The Lady Razorbacks shot 11 of 19 in the first half and finished 50 percent from the floor.
Watkins drained a 3-point shot and followed with a long jumper to give Arkansas a 21-16 lead with 7:29 in the first half, and the Lady Razorbacks entered halftime with a 31-26 lead—nearly matching their points total in their 69-38 loss to the Lady Vols on Jan. 8.
Arkansas managed to keep Tennessee off the boards and out of the paint in the first half. The Lady Razorbacks outrebounded the Lady Vols 14-8 and limited them to 9-for-20 shooting before halftime.
Tennessee found some life after halftime from Stricklen and Johnson, who were a combined 0-for-4 with no rebounds in the first half.
"We dug ourselves a hole in the first half," Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "You can't have two of your best players not scoring and not rebounding."
Stricklen sank a pair of 3s to pull Tennessee within two points, and Ariel Massengale stole the ball from Ricketts and hit a layup to tie it at 44 points with 12:08 to go. Johnson came up with key rebounds and found her way to the rim and free-throw line to help the Lady Vols keep a slight edge until just before the end of regulation.
Tennessee had entered the game tied with Kentucky for first place in the SEC, but the Wildcats regained sole control of the conference with a win against South Carolina on Thursday night with one game left to play. The Lady Vols dropped to second place.
Arkansas moved into a tie for third place with Georgia.