Tennessee advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 31st time in 32 years with a 68-52 win over Creighton on Monday night. No. 2-seeded Tennessee (26-7) will take on No. 3 seed UCLA/No. 6 seed Oklahoma on March 31 in Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The time and television coverage will be announced when available.
Tennessee is now 52-0 all-time in home NCAA Tournament games including a 40-0 mark in first and second-round games. The Orange & White has a 50-1 overall record in first and second round games.
In their final game in Thompson-Boling Arena, seniors Kamiko Williams (15) and Taber Spani (10) combined for 25 points to head the Lady Vols’ scoring chart. Junior Meighan Simmons and sophomore Ariel Massengale each added 10 points.
Tennessee used tremendous defense to limit Creighton to just 4-of-22 from 3-point range — the Bluejays’ specialty. It marked the fewest trifectas in a game for Creighton this season. The 18.2 percent was also a season-low for CU from 3-point land. The Jays came into the NCAA Tournament, second in the NCAA in made treys per game (9.2).
The Lady Vols dominated the paint as expected, outscoring the Jays, 26-16. Tennessee also showed its quickness with 15 fastbreak points to two for Creighton.
Creighton (25-8) was led by Alexis Akin-Otiko, who had 12.
Tennessee opened the second half with stifling defense and up-tempo offense. The Lady Vols’ 13-0 run gave UT a 48-31 lead on a sweet give-and-go finished by Williams and 3-pointers by Massengale and Simmons with 15 minutes left in the half.
After Creighton cut the deficit to 12 points, Spani answered with a 3-pointer with 7:44 left in regulation to put UT ahead, 59-44.
The pesky Bluejays kept battling and cut the margin to single-digits on a pair of free throws by Ally Jensen with 4:42 left in regulation at 59-50. But, once again the Lady Vols answered as Simmons knocked down a 3-pointer to give UT a 62-50 advantage.
The Lady Vols sealed the game with a 9-0 run in the final minutes.
The Lady Vols shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half. Tennessee held the Jays to just one 3-pointer on defense as Creighton shot just 25.9 on all field goal attempts (1-of-12 in 3-pointers).
WIlliams (10 first-half points) was the difference for the Lady Vols late in the first half as she scored twice in the final minute to put Tennessee ahead 35-29 at the break. The game was tied on five occasions and the largest lead was eight over the first 20 minutes.
The game stood deadlocked at 24 with 3:38 left in the first half. The Lady Vols scored the game’s next six points to take a 30-24 lead on a pair of Isabelle Harrison free throws with two minutes left in the opening stanza.
After Creighton cut the lead to three at 30-27, Williams hit on back-to-back shots to put the Lady Vols ahead, 35-27.