A pleasant surprise for Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick's squad Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena against Florida was the impressive play of Jasmine Jones in the second half.
As Florida trimmed the Lady Vol lead down to 10, Jones hit two clutch 3-pointers to swing the momentum back to Tennessee – eventually ending in an 89-69 Lady Vol win.
Jones finished the night with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go along with six rebounds and two assists.
"Jasmine was amazing today," Bashaara Graves said. "We need that type of play from Jasmine. If she stays consistent for us she can do that every game.
"We believe in her, and she is going to keep getting better."
Starting point guard Ariel Massengale's night came to an abrupt end near the closing of the first half.
While competing for a loose ball, Massengale was inadvertently hit in the head and did not return to the game.
"My first thought was it was a concussion," head coach Holly Warlick said. "But at this point, I don't think it is. We're going to evaluate her. She got hit in the head pretty hard."
With the injury, Massengale's consecutive start streak could be at risk.
The Bolingbrook, Ill., native has started 42 consecutive games for the Lady Vols and is averaging 31.5 minutes per contest this season.
Gallant Guard Play
In the absence of Massengale, backup guards Andraya Carter and Jordan Reynolds saw an increase in playing time.
After the game, Warlick lauded her young players for their effort in a sub role.
"Jordan and Andraya had to carry that load," Warlick said. "I think we prepared them for it, and I think they did an exceptional job."
Carter turned in a solid night, posting 14 points, two steals and a career-high eight assists in 30 minutes.
Reynolds also chipped in with four points, two rebounds and three steals in 22 minutes.
"With Ariel going out we knew we had to come closer as a team and have tight huddles and stay together," Carter said. "That's what we did, and it was really exciting getting such a big win on Pat's big night."
Charity stripe struggles
The Lady Vols continued their woes at the free throw line, going 13-of-24 on the night.
"Free throw shooting is just a mindset," Warlick said. "We have to get our mind right and get up there and make some free throws."
"We Back Pat Night"
Thursday night held special meaning for the Lady Vols basketball team as they welcomed Florida to take part in the third-annual "We Back Pat Night."
Former head coach Pat Summitt was honored with a $30,000 donation to the Pat Summitt Foundation, split among three organizations. The donations are to support Summitt as she continues her fight against Alzheimer's.
The "We Back Pat Week" has since become a tradition in the SEC as all 14 institutions have agreed to support the former coach. Week-long games are aimed at raising funds and building awareness for the Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of the East Tennessee Foundation.