No. 16 Tennessee rallies, tops Middle Tennessee in overtime

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Bashaara Graves recorded a double-double and reserve guard Kamiko Williams made several huge plays down the stretch Wednesday night as No. 16 Tennessee erased an 11-point, second-half deficit in an 88-81 overtime victory over Middle Tennessee.

Middle Tennessee (4-2) had forced overtime on Icelyn Elie's 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in regulation. Elie led all scorers with 21 points.

The Blue Raiders were seeking their first victory over the Lady Vols in 20 attempts and had lost 82-43 to Tennessee last year, but their poor history in this rivalry certainly didn't bother them for most of the game.

After trailing all night, Tennessee finally took its first lead at 64-63 when Williams got a steal and made a 10-footer with 4:26 left. Williams added a 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation and made a steal and drew a charge in overtime.

Once the Blue Raiders tied the game at the end of regulation, Tennessee used its depth to wear down a Middle Tennessee team that barely substituted all night and was playing its third overtime game of the season. Middle Tennessee's Elie, Ebony Rowe and Korni Jones each played all 45 minutes. Starting point guard Shanice Cason also had played the entire game before fouling out in overtime.

Meghan Simmons scored 19 points for Tennessee (5-1). Graves collected 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Ariel Massengale also scored 15 points.

Rowe recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds for Middle Tennessee. Laken Leonard added 17 points while shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point range, and Cason tallied 13 points.

The contest was Middle Tennessee's fourth in a five-game road trip that will require the Blue Raiders to travel 5,000 miles. Middle Tennessee had lost 69-63 at Iowa in overtime and had beaten Tennessee Tech 65-59 in overtime and Louisiana-Lafayette 72-45 in the three games leading up to this one. The Blue Raiders next play Saturday at South Dakota State.

Tennessee will carry a five-game winning streak into the toughest portion of its schedule. The Lady Vols host No. 22 North Carolina on Sunday, then take two weeks off before playing at No. 13 Texas on Dec. 16 and at No. 3 Baylor on Dec. 18. Tennessee returns home to face No. 1 Stanford on Dec. 22.