GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Evina Westbrook and Rennia Davis combined for 39 points, 27 in the second half, and Tennessee edged LSU 69-66 in a critical second-round game of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Thursday.
Both teams are considered on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament and with a quarterfinal meeting with league champion and fifth-ranked Mississippi State on Friday, a win was crucial to keep NCAA hopes alive, especially for Tennessee (19-11), which has never missed a tournament since the NCAA started running it in 1982.
Westbrook had 20 points, 15 after halftime on 7-of-10 shooting, and Davis had 19, 12 after the break, including making 3 of 4 free throws in the last 25.4 seconds.
Khayla Pointer had 13 of her 21 in the first half when the Tigers (16-13) opened a 35-28 lead. Ayana Mitchell and Faustine Aifuwa had 16 points apiece with Mitchell grabbing 11 rebounds.
Tennessee opened the second half with a 10-4 run to get within one but didn’t get over the hump until the fourth quarter. A Davis 3-pointer got the lead to five and Westbrook made it six with less than two minutes to go but LSU got the deficit down to a possession in the final minute. Westbrook made a nifty drive with 40.8 seconds to go to make it a two possession game.
LSU had one last chance when Davis made 1 of 2 free throws with 10.8 seconds left but a contested 3-pointer went off the side of the rim with time running out on the rebound.