Tennessee was challenged Wednesday night, as they narrowly survive their encounter with Middle Tennesssee State, 88-81.
The No. 16 Lady Vols (5-1) were taken to overtime by a feisty Blue Raiders (4-2) team.
The win improved UT's all-time record against their in-state opponent to 20-0.
"Tonight was a tale of two teams going at it and it went back and forth," head coach Holly Warlick said. "We got down early but I liked the way we battled and came back. It was a great game by both teams."
For the second game in a row, guard Kamiko Williams' senior leadership proved to be key and, in this game, the deciding outcome. Not only did she hit an important three-pointer that helped take the game into overtime, but she finished even stronger in the final minutes of the extra time.
With 1:57 left in their first overtime contest of the young season, Williams snatched her third steal of the night and in the final minute banked in a shot to extend the Lady Vols' lead to six. She even sacrificed her body to take an offensive charge to extend their winning streak to five games.
"She is an amazing teammate and I admire how she played today," junior guard Meighan Simmons said. "She gave it her all, and when we needed someone for energy she was our 'Energizer Bunny.' It pushed everybody else to play harder and fight back even more."
Williams finished the game with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting to go along with five rebounds and three assists.
"You're seeing Kamiko Williams at her best right now," Warlick said. "She has had two good games back to back and I'm extremely proud of her. Today was one of her most consistent days guarding the basketball. She's got a lot of confidence right now."
Simmons led UT in scoring with 19 points.
In the first half the Lady Vols fell behind quickly as the Blue Raiders shot 45.5 percent in the first half and created turnovers.
MTSU took a 12-point lead at one point in the first half, but had that shortened to 39-35 at halftime.
Lady Blue Raiders' sophomore point guard Shanice Cason led all scorers at the half with 10 points.
The second half was filled with intensity and drama for UT, as they lost freshman point guard and defensive stopper Andraya Carter to a shoulder injury.
Through adversity, Tennessee managed to fight and take their first lead of the game with 4:26 left off of a Williams jumper that was assisted by sophomore point guard Ariel Massengale.
The Blue Raiders' fight could not be extinguished, however, as senior forward Icelyn Elie - who scored a game-high 21 points - drained a three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
However, in the end the Lady Vols outlasted MTSU, as they outscored them in overtime 15-8.
Moving forward, Warlick and her team expect to see an even tougher opponent next time out, as they will play host to No. 22 North Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
"I think tonight's game is going to prepare us for Sunday," Warlick said. "Anytime your back is up against the wall you have to battle, you'll find kids who will want to fight. I love it."
Tip-off against the Tar Heels is set for 1 p.m.