published Friday, January 31st, 2014

Burdick, Simmons lead Lady Vols’ win

  • photo
    Tennessee guard Andraya Carter drives to the basket while coach Holly Warlick watches the play during their NCAA basketball game against Arkansas, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Knoxville.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — Cierra Burdick and Meighan Simmons each scored 16 points as No. 10 Tennessee shot 62.2 percent from the floor to beat Arkansas 70-60 in SEC women’s basketball Thursday night.

The Lady Vols (17-4, 6-2) shot 28-of-45 overall and 7-of-13 from 3-point range.

Burdick matched a career high with her 16 points, and the 6-foot-2 junior also had seven rebounds and four assists. Isabelle Harrison scored 12 points and Andraya Carter added 10.

Jessica Jackson scored 16 and Keira Peak, Jhasmin Bowen and Calli Berna had 12, 11 and 10 for Arkansas (15-6, 2-6), which lost for the fifth time in six games.

Tennessee point guard Ariel Massengale missed a second straight game with an injury to her face. She was injured on Jan. 23 while making a steal in an 89-69 victory over Florida.

Arkansas won its first 13 games of the season, but close losses have put the Razorbacks in the bottom half of the SEC standings. Heading into Thursday’s game, their five conference losses had been decided by a total of 27 points. They also had a chance to win this one.

Arkansas capitalized on strong shooting to lead by eight points in the first half. The Razorbacks made 13 of their first 19 shots by hitting open jumpers and driving to the basket for easy layups.

The Razorbacks also benefited from the absence of Harrison, who picked up two fouls in the first 4½ minutes of the game. Foul trouble caused the 6-foot-3 center to sit out the rest of the first half, clearing the lane for Arkansas drives.

But as the Razorbacks finally started to slow down, Tennessee capitalized on its own shooting accuracy and pulled ahead on Jordan Reynolds’ 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in the first half. The Lady Vols led 38-36 after 20 minutes in which they shot 64 percent (16-of-25) and Arkansas shot 57 percent (16-of-28).

Tennessee stayed in front the rest of the way while preventing the easy drives into the lane that Arkansas had enjoyed earlier in the game. After its 13-of-19 start, Arkansas was just 12-of-38 the rest of the way.

Arkansas stayed in the game by outrebounding the taller Lady Vols 31-24, but the Razorbacks didn’t have enough firepower to pull the upset. They also couldn’t stop Simmons down the stretch. She sank a 3-pointer with 6:04 left to give Tennessee its first double-digit lead at 59-48.

Jackson scored five straight points to reduce the margin to eight, but Simmons answered by sinking another 3 from in front of the Tennessee bench with 4:17 left. Burdick’s 3 made it 65-55 with 3:46 remaining, and the Lady Vols led by at least nine the rest of the way.

Burdick made both her 3-point attempts Thursday after entering the night 1-of-9 from beyond the arc this season.

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