KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Andraya Carter matched a career high with 16 points Friday night as No. 8 Tennessee outlasted Missouri 63-53 in a game that featured the ejection of three players.
Tennessee center Isabelle Harrison and Missouri guard Juanita Robinson had to be separated as they exchanged words after getting tangled up while fighting for rebounding position with less than 3 minutes remaining. Both players were ejected, and Tennessee center Nia Moore also was ejected after officials determined she left the bench during the incident.
The Lady Vols (11-2, 1-0 SEC) trailed by seven points late in the first half before going on a 14-0 run midway through the first half to pull ahead for good. Ariel Massengale scored 14 points and Jordan Reynolds added 10 as Tennessee earned its seventh straight victory.
Jordan Frericks scored 23 points and Morgan Eye added 18 for Missouri (10-4, 0-1).
Tennessee overcame the foul trouble of Harrison, who entered the night averaging 12.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game to lead the Lady Vols in both categories. The 6-foot-3 senior played just 7 minutes due to foul trouble. Harrison made the game’s first basket and didn’t score again.
The Lady Vols figured to have a huge matchup advantage inside against a Missouri team that generally relies on 3-pointers and has lost forwards Kayla McDowell and Bri Porter to torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
But the complexion of this game changed when Harrison picked up two fouls in the first 2 minutes and sat out the remainder of the first half.
Without Harrison’s shot-blocking presence on the floor, Missouri didn’t hesitate to drive to the basket and continually got the ball to Frerick for high-percentage shots.
Tennessee trailed 25-18 before Reynolds’ 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in the first half made it 25-21 at the intermission.
The Lady Vols then scored the first 11 points of the second half. Reynolds scored the final five points in the spurt, including a 3 that put Tennessee ahead 32-25 with 17:51 remaining. Missouri cut the deficit to one on 3-pointers by Eye and Morgan Stock, but Tennessee grabbed a double-digit advantage by scoring the next nine points on two 3s by Massengale and one from Alexa Middleton.
Missouri kept chipping away and got the lead back down to two midway through the second half, but the Tigers couldn’t come all the way back as Tennessee pulled away down the stretch.
Missouri: Eye made five 3-pointers to extend her career total to 325, 67 shy of the NCAA Division I record shared by former Kansas State player Laurie Koehn (2002-05) and former UT Martin player Heather Butler (2010-14).
Tennessee: The Lady Vols improved to 27-6 all-time in SEC openers. Tennessee lost 80-77 at home to LSU in its SEC opener last season.
Missouri: Hosts Mississippi State on Sunday
Tennessee: At Vanderbilt on Monday
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.