The No. 16th ranked LSU women's basketball team captured a stunning win from the 5th ranked Tennessee Volunteers Thursday night (Jan. 2) in Knoxville with a 80-77 win, the first victory over Tennessee since 2009.
The Tigers were able to get off to a good start in the first inning building a lead that would be slowly closed in the last minutes of the 4th inning by the Volunteers. The Tigers had a nice lead with the score at 75-59 with only 4:37 left on the clock. The gap closed to a one point lead by LSU at the one minute mark with a score of 78-77.
The Tigers, led by Danielle Ballard, held on to the lead and broke Tennessee's string of 16 consecutive SEC opening victories in front of 14,437 fans. The win also broke the Tiger's seven game losing streak against the Tennessee Volunteers.
Ballard had a career tying high game scoring 25 points, followed by DaShawn Harden with 17 points, Theresa Plaisance with 15 points, and 14 points from Jeanne Kenney. Shanece McKinney also had a good night scoring six points, five rebounds, and three blocks in the game.
While not an easy win, the Lady Tigers showed what they are capable of in capturing this hard and sought after win. Nikki Caldwell, the head coach of the Tigers had this to say about the big win, “I’m just so proud of our team for really taking our game plan and trying to execute it. Players stepped up and made big plays. We knew that Tennessee was going to come at us and was going to make a run because that’s who they are. I can’t say enough for how proud I am of this group for really just laying it on the line and being courageous to come into this type of environment and come out with a win.”
The Tennessee Volunteers chose this game to retire the jersey of Candice Parker, who played under both Nikki Caldwell and Holly Warlick when they were assistant coaches at Tennessee. The ceremony took place prior to the game which was held in the Thompson-Boling Arena. Parker led the Tennessee Volunteers to national championships in 2007 and 2008.
Parker had this to say about her former assistant coach, Nikki Caldwell, who is now the head coach for the LSU Tigers, “Nikki Caldwell was a huge reason why I came to the University of Tennessee and why I became a Lady Vol. It was an honor to play under that coaching staff.”
The Tigers are now 11-2 for the season and 1-0 in SEC play. They will next take on Tulane on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 in the Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans, La.