published Friday, February 24th, 2012

Lady Vols lose in OT, 72-71

KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee women's basketball coaches know what their players can do. That's what makes watching them struggle so frustrating.

The latest stumble for the 10th-ranked Lady Volunteers was a 72-71 overtime Southeastern Conference loss Thursday night against Arkansas, giving them a program-record third home defeat this season.

"If we can ever put together a 40-minute game, then I love this team," UT associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "When they're all clicking, it's a great group. We just have lapses, and we've got to get to a point where we close those lapses."

The Lady Volunteers (20-8, 11-4) are running out of opportunities to do that. They dropped to second in the SEC, clearing the way for Kentucky to claim the conference title with a win against Mississippi State on Sunday on the final day of the regular season.

Arkansas moved into a tie for third place with Georgia.

After coming from behind against the Lady Razorbacks, the Lady Vols couldn't make the plays to seal a win. Arkansas got its first win ever in Knoxville, the second SEC team to accomplish that feat this season. South Carolina logged its first win in Knoxville on Feb. 2.

Shekinna Stricklen hit a layup for Tennessee with 48 seconds left to play to cut the Arkansas lead to 70-69, and the Lady Vols got the ball back when Keira Peak lost it out of bounds under the Arkansas basket.

Peak fouled Stricklen, who missed both of her free throws with 10 seconds left. Kamiko Williams then fouled Lyndsay Harris, who sealed the win for Arkansas (21-6, 10-5) by hitting a pair of foul shots with six seconds left.

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 three 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 with nine seconds left and force overtime.

Harris led Arkansas with 20 points. Watkins had 18 and Ricketts had 16.

Stricklen led Tennessee with 17 points, all scored after halftime. Glory Johnson scored all 13 of her points in the second half.

Both teams struggled hanging on to the ball. Arkansas committed 21 turnovers and Tennessee had 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," Warlick said. "You can't have two of your best players not scoring and not rebounding."

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