KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Stanford has beaten two previously undefeated top-10 teams in the last four days and still believes it has room to improve.
DiJonai Carrington scored a career-high 33 points and pulled down 13 rebounds Tuesday as No. 8 Stanford defeated No. 9 Tennessee 95-85, handing the Lady Volunteers their first loss of the season. The victory came three nights after Stanford beat Baylor 68-63, a result that dropped the Lady Bears from third to sixth in the AP Top 25 rankings.
“I’d say we’re a confident team, but we’re not content,” Carrington said. “We’re not content with this and not content with anything that we’ve done. We know that we have so many weapons from inside out, outside in, shooters, drivers, o-boarders (offensive rebounders) who can finish.”
Stanford (8-1) had nearly two weeks off after falling 79-73 at Gonzaga on Dec. 2 for its lone loss of the season. The Cardinal returned from that layoff by showcasing Final Four potential in back-to-back wins over Baylor and Tennessee (8-1).
“Gonzaga’s a very good team, and our team learned an important lesson there and took it to heart,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “We didn’t like how we played at Gonzaga. We needed to play a lot harder. We needed to play smarter. We needed to show a lot more resilience.”
They’ve done just that.
The Cardinal shot 14 of 24 from 3-point range Tuesday and outrebounded Tennessee 45-31 to withstand a 20-turnover performance. Stanford also overcame a brilliant effort from Tennessee’s Evina Westbrook, who scored a career-high 29 points and also had 10 assists.
Stanford was just two points away from matching the highest scoring total ever for a Tennessee opponent at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Lady Vols’ home floor since the 1987-88 season. The record is owned by Texas, which beat the Lady Vols 97-78 on Dec. 9, 1987.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said her team played “soft” Tuesday and showed a lack of effort for the first time all season.
“How have we won games? Defense,” Warlick said. “How have we won games? Rebounding. It was non-existent tonight. They did nothing that we didn’t know about, that we didn’t practice and prepare for. Nothing. They didn’t do anything that surprised us. We did a lot of things that surprised me.”
Carrington led five Stanford players in double figures by shooting 11 of 15 overall and 4 of 5 from 3-point range, setting a career high for 3-point shots. Her previous career high for scoring was a 24-point outburst against Kent State on Nov. 23, 2017.
The 5-foot-11 junior acknowledged after the game she was surprised Tennessee continued leaving her open from beyond the arc.
“After the first two, I figured they were going to come out a little bit more,” Carrington said. “I hesitated on one because I thought they were going to come out, but I just took the shot. I was feeling it.”
Kiana Williams and Alanna Smith each added 16 points for Stanford. Lacie Hull scored 14 and Maya Dodson had 10.
Rennia Davis had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Vols. Meme Jackson scored 17 points and Zaay Green added 14.
Tennessee trailed by as many as 15 before rallying to take its first lead at 56-55 with 5:21 left in the third quarter. Stanford regained the lead later in the third.
After a Green 3-pointer cut Stanford’s lead to 69-67 with 9:03 left, Carrington scored the game’s next six points.
Stanford stayed in front by at least six the rest of the way.
Stanford: This team’s remarkable versatility was evident in the way Stanford thrived, even when Smith was on the bench in foul trouble. Stanford’s rebounding dominance and 3-point accuracy showed the Cardinal can win in a variety of different ways.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols suddenly must work on their rebounding, typically a team strength. Tennessee has been outrebounded in its last two games by a combined 20 boards. The Lady Vols had a plus-16 rebound margin before their last two games
Westbrook is the first Lady Vol to score 20-plus points in four straight games since Candace Parker did it in 2007-08, Tennessee’s most recent national championship season.
Stanford moved up three spots to No. 8 and leapfrogged Tennessee after its victory over Baylor. The Cardinal’s victory justified that move. Tennessee could drop out of the top 10 next week.
Tennessee center Kasiyahna Kushkituah returned to action Tuesday after missing three games with an injured left knee, but she had no points or rebounds in eight minutes.
Stanford: At Buffalo on Friday.
Tennessee: Hosts East Tennessee State on Friday.
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