HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Jalynn Gregory sprinted past a screen to get open.
She pulled up without hesitation and drained her second 3-pointer in a row to give Middle Tennessee State a five-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter. It was everything the Blue Raiders needed to quell Tennessee’s push in the fourth quarter when it took a one-point lead.
But Gregory scored eight points to give MTSU the lead and momentum back. Lady Vols basketball never recovered, and fell to MTSU 73-62 on Wednesday at Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center. Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper had never been beaten by an instate opponent in 16 previous games. MTSU also beat Tennessee for the first time in program history – the Lady Vols had won the last 22 matchups.
Gregory scored a team-high 22 points and went 5-for-9 from 3-point range. MTSU (7-3) outshot Tennessee (4-5) from behind the arc, going 12-for-24. UT shot 9-for-23 from 3-point range.
Tennessee was without star forward Rickea Jackson for a seventh game. It was also without junior forward Jillian Hollingshead due to concussion protocol.
MTSU swings momentum going into halftime
Sifa Ineza jumped Tess Darby’s inbounds pass with two seconds left in the first half. The MTSU guard flew down the court, stopped and pulled up at the arc. She drained her 3-pointer as the buzzer rang for halftime, giving the Blue Raiders a 37-33 lead.
It was a huge momentum swing for MTSU, which went nearly six minutes without making a field goal in the second quarter. It ended the half on an 8-0 run.
Its only points in that stretch were from three free throws made by sophomore guard Ta’Mia Scott, who led MTSU with 10 points in the first half.
MTSU outrebounded Tennessee 22-12 in the first half – seven were offensive rebounds for seven second-chance points. Tennessee outrebounded MTSU 18-15 in the second half, but the Blue Raiders still outrebounded the Lady Vols 37-30.
Karoline Striplin has career game
Tennessee started to lose momentum in the second when junior forward Karoline Striplin picked up her second foul and subbed out with 5:44 left. Eventually its other two available post players, Sara Puckett and Tamari Key, picked up second fouls, too. Tennessee was called for nine fouls in the first half to MTSU’s four.
She had 14 of Tennessee’s 33 first-half points on 6-for-11 shooting.
Striplin had career highs in points (29) and made field goals (11). She added three rebounds, two assists and a steal. She shot 55% from the field and went 4-for-8 from 3-point range.
No other Lady Vols scored in double figures. Senior point guard Jasmine Powell was the second-leading scorer with nine points, five rebounds and four assists.