Lady Vols Fall To La. Tech

Tamicha Jackson, Betty Lennox and No. 6 Louisiana Tech put an end to Tennessee's home hex.

Jackson scored 21 points and Lennox had 20 as the Lady Techsters stopped No. 2 Tennessee's 41-game home winning streak Sunday with a 69-64 victory in the Women's Tip-off Classic.

"I told them with four minutes left, it is not a coaches' game anymore," Tech coach Leon Barmore said. "You have to keep your composure, take care of the ball and make free throws.

"Our composure at the end was the biggest thing," he said.

It was the Lady Volunteers' first home court loss since a 1996 defeat by Stanford.

"They have a strong 1-2 punch in the backcourt," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "I don't know of one that is quicker. Lennox did an excellent job out of the middle and Jackson was really quick."

For Louisiana Tech, whose record against the Lady Vols is now 17-15, including a loss in the 1998 NCAA title game, it was the Lady Techsters' first victory over Tennessee since 1996-97.

The Lady Techsters hung on after Tennessee rallied from 18 points down in the second half to tie it at 58 with 5:13 to play on a putback by Michelle Snow.

But Jackson and Lennox kept their team in it and ended up hitting three crucial free throws and two field goals down the stretch to preserve the victory.

Jackson and Lennox each had 12 points at halftime to put Louisiana Tech ahead 33-25.

Jackson shot 5-for-18 in the first half and was 4-for-9 in the second half.

"I was missing shots early because I think I was rushing, so I just kept shooting," she said.

The Lady Techsters opened the second half with a 12-2 run and pushed their lead to 45-27 with 16:46 to play.

The Lady Vols fought back behind the tenacious defense of Kyra Elzy, who missed last season with a knee injury, and a roaring home crowd of 10,142.

Following Snow's putback, Tamika Catchings hit a free throw to give the Lady Vols a 59-58 lead at 4:22.

The teams traded baskets until a jumper by Jackson with 1:05 left put the Lady Techsters up to stay at 66-64.

Catchings led Tennessee with 16 points and Semeka Randall had 15.

"Tonight we saw this team go out with a new point guard, a freshman in the starting lineup (Gwen Jackson) and a freshman off the bench (Kara Lawson)," Summitt said.

"This team has a chance to be a great basketball team in March, but we need more people accountable on both ends of the court, making defensive and offensive plays."

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