UConn defeats Tennessee in renewal of storied women’s hoops rivalry

Photo Credit: Jessica Hill/AP

It had been over a decade since the Tennessee Lady Vols and UConn Huskies were on the same court at the same time in women’s basketball competition.

Women’s basketball fans were taken back to the days of when the Huskies-Lady Vols rivalry was arguably the best in the sport on Thursday night in Hartford – and this rendition of a UConn-Tennessee get-together tilted in favor of Geno Auriemma’s Huskies by a final of 60-45.

Crystal Dangerfield paced the Huskies (17-1, 7-0 AAC) with 14 points, four steals and three assists while Aubrey Griffin chimed in with 13 points off the bench in addition to seven rebounds and five steals. Olivia Nelson-Ododa added 10 points with seven rebounds and four assists.

For Kellie Harper’s Lady Vols (15-4, 5-1) Rennia Davis led all scorers with 16 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes of play along with going seven for 14 from the field. Jazmine Massengill contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Rae Burrell scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds off the Tennessee bench.

The margin of victory for the Huskies – 15, was also how many points UConn converted off of Tennessee turnovers, which they did 27 times.

Tennessee led UConn 31-28 at the half before the Huskies were propelled by a commanding third quarter, outscoring the Lady Vols 21-7 in the game’s third frame.

The rivalry was put on cold ice when Tennessee filed complaints regarding the recruiting tactics allegedly used at Storrs. One of Tennessee’s allegations was that UConn took Maya Moore on a tour of ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol.

Auriemma expressed when the announcement was made that UConn and Tennessee would renew pleasantries beginning with this season that the charges made by Knoxville still irked him.

A major reason for the renewal of the UConn-Tennessee rivalry – raising money for The Pat Summitt Foundation. Some of the proceeds from this contest as well as the ensuing meeting in Knoxville for next year will benefit the Foundation as well as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Lady Vols had won the last three contests with UConn before Thursday’s night’s matchup with the Huskies prevailing in the six games before those three.

Up next for the Huskies is a road contest with East Carolina in Greenville, North Carolina this upcoming Saturday. As for Tennessee, they return to Rocky Top to take on SEC rival LSU on Sunday.

It appears as if the game itself was a winner as well…

Another for the “nobody watches women’s basketball” file. That 630,000 along with the nearly 14,000 that packed the XL Center in Hartford is a whole lot of “nobodies.”

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