Tennessee's Bashaara Graves, left, falls as she looks to pass the ball while Rutgers defender Syessence Davis (15) tries to make a steal during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Piscataway, N.J. ((AP Photo/Mel Eva
Mel Evans
December 14, 2014

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Holly Warlick was taught at a young age by Pat Summitt that defense and rebounding would be what wins games.

With the offense struggling against Rutgers, the Lady Vols were able to count on those two staples to pull off the 55-45 victory Sunday.

''You're going to have some nights, you won't shoot the ball very well,'' Warlick said. ''If you're solid on the defensive end and a great rebounding team you got a chance to win the game. That's what happened for us.''

The 11th-ranked Lady Vols shot just 28 percent from the field, but outrebounded Rutgers 54-42 and held the 17th-ranked team to just one field goal over the game's final 7:14.

''The main thing we wanted to focus on was the defensive end, we knew our shots weren't falling,'' said Isabelle Harrison, who had all 11 of her points in the second half. ''We got to get a stop, play defense, that's what carried us through the game.''

Trailing 43-39 with 7:14 left, Tennessee scored the next 10 points to take control of the game. Harrison had the first four points during the spurt on free throws.

Betnijah Laney's layup with 1:31 left broke a 5:45 scoreless drought for the Scarlet Knights (8-2) and made it 49-45.

After forcing a shot-clock violation with 57 seconds left, Laney turned it over on the drive and Cierra Burdick had a basket with 30 seconds left to seal the win.

Laney's left thumb was heavily taped during the game after she was kicked in the first few minutes.

''We don't know exactly yet,'' said Laney, who finished with just four points and five rebounds. ''I'm going to the doctors.''

It was Harrison's first start since missing five games with a sprained right knee suffered in the opener against Penn. She had played in the last two contests coming off the bench.

''I didn't want to let my injury slow me down,'' Harrison said. ''I could tell it was affecting me. I was thinking about it too much.''

Tyler Scaife scored 22 to lead the Scarlet Knights (8-2), who have lost the last 10 in the series to the Lady Vols dating to 2004.

It wasn't an offense showcase by any stretch. Neither team could put the ball in the basket. Tennessee shot 28 from the field while Rutgers wasn't much better at 31 percent.

Rutgers led 14-8 with 8:40 left in the half before going into a scoring drought. Tennessee then scored 10 of the next 12 to take an 18-16 lead on Graves' free throw with 3:35 left. The Scarlet Knights then closed the half scoring seven of the final nine points to go up 23-20 going into the break.

The two teams combined to shoot 16 for 69 (23 percent) from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

The teams traded the lead for most of the second half until Rutgers took a 39-35 lead on Syessence Davis' 3-pointer with 9 minutes left. The Scarlet Knights led 43-39 before the Lady Vols rallied.

''We could of, we should of and we didn't. Simple as that,'' Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said.

TIP-INS

Tennessee: The Lady Vols are 20-3 against the Scarlet Knights, including 10 straight wins. ... The last time that Tennessee won a game shooting this poorly was in the 2007 Final Four when the Lady Vols beat North Carolina despite a 27-percent effort from the field.

Rutgers: Laney was honored before the game for scoring her 1,000th career point against North Carolina on Thursday, Dec. 4.

UP NEXT

Tennessee hosts Wichita State on Tuesday.

Rutgers visits Iona on Saturday.

INTERNING

TV personality Robin Roberts took in the game to watch Tennessee guard Burdick, who spent the summer working as an intern for ''Good Morning America.''

The two chatted after the game outside the Lady Vols' locker room.

WOEFUL SHOOTING

Scaife was 9 for 17 from the field while the rest of the Scarlet Knights shot just 22 percent from the field (10-of-44). ... Tennessee wasn't any better. Take out Jasmine Jones' making six of her nine shots and the Lady Vols made just 22 percent (13 for 60) from the field, including just one of 10 3-pointers.

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