LSU hands No. 24 Tennessee women 2nd loss in 3 games 57-56
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Tennessee's streak of 565 consecutive weeks in The Associated Press women's basketball poll is in jeopardy.
The Lady Vols have been ranked in the AP poll dating back to Feb. 17, 1985.
They played their third game in seven days after losing to South Carolina 62-56 last Monday and beating Mississippi 57-51 Thursday. On Sunday, Alexis Hyder scored 17 points, including two free throws with 3.4 seconds left, and LSU upset No. 24 Tennessee 57-56.
Tennessee's Mercedes Russell missed two free throws with 4.5 seconds left and Hyder was fouled on a reach-in as she turned up court after grabbing the rebound. Hyder hit both free throws at the other end and Tennessee missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
''Well, she fouled her,'' Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. ''I can't explain it. ... I don't know why she fouled or what she was doing but she fouled her.''
Akilah Bethel added nine points with 12 rebounds for LSU (9-18, 3-11 SEC), which beat a ranked opponent as an unranked team for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
The Tigers are the second team with a losing record to beat Tennessee this season. The other loss was at Arkansas on Jan. 14.
Before this season, Tennessee hadn't lost to a team with a losing record since 1979.
''Gotta make a free throw, just gotta make a free throw,'' Warlick said.
Tennessee scored just 18 points in the first half and trailed by 10 points, but the Lady Vols had 19 in the third quarter to pull to 39-37.
Diamond DeShields scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half for Tennessee (16-11, 7-7). The Lady Vols' 11th loss tied a school record for losses in a season with the 1975-76 and 2008-09 seasons.
DeShields hit two 3-pointers and scored Tennessee's first eight points of the third quarter to pull to 30-26. Tennessee opened the quarter on a 14-3 run as LSU made just one of its first eight shots.
Russell tied it at 30-all off a nice no-look pass by Alexa Middleton and DeShields' jumper from the free-throw line gave Tennessee its first lead (32-30) since 10-8.
Jenna Deemer hit consecutive 3-pointers to give LSU a 39-35 lead, but Tennessee's Bashaara Graves made a layup just before the third-quarter buzzer to make it 39-37. The Tigers were just 4-of-11 shooting in the quarter and went without a field goal for six-plus minutes.
In the fourth, DeShields went coast-to-coast to tie it at 47-all with 4:13 left. Both teams went without a field goal for about three minutes until DeShields hit a jumper near the free-throw line to give Tennessee a 52-49 lead with 46 seconds left. Then Ann Jones had a putback of a missed 3-pointer to pull LSU to 52-51 with 37 seconds left.
Middleton hit two free throws to extend Tennessee's lead to 54-51 and then Rina Hill hit two free throws to pull LSU to 54-53.
Graves missed her first free throw attempt of the game with 14.5 seconds left but hit the second for a 55-53 lead and LSU turned it over on its next possession. Andraya Carter also went 1 of 2 from the line with 9.5 seconds remaining for a three-point lead.
Hill elected to go for a quick layup to make it a one-point game and Russell was fouled under the basket before missing both free throws.
''Our kids played with a lot of heart and a lot of fight until the very end,'' LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. ''We didn't give up and I'm so proud of our team for just hanging in there even when things looked like they weren't going to go our way.''
Tennessee: The Lady Vols were 8-of-27 shooting (29.6 percent) in the first half. ... They shot 56 percent from the line (9 of 16) overall while LSU was 14 of 17. ... Nia Moore made her first start of the season as Tennessee started its 11th different lineup this season. ... DeShields, who played her freshman season at North Carolina, scored her 1,000th point to become the sixth Lady Vol to hit the mark in a sophomore season.
LSU: The Tigers built a 28-18 lead at halftime after forcing Tennessee into 10 turnovers. It was a season low for points scored in a first half by the Vols. ... LSU ended its three-game losing streak to Tennessee.
Tennessee plays at Alabama on Thursday.
LSU hosts No. 22 Florida on Thursday.