The battle of the UTs – Texas vs Tennessee drags into overtime, ends in 74-70 loss

Aakriti Singla

Four seconds left on the shot clock. Texas and Tennessee tied at 59.  All eyes are on Tennessee junior guard Jordan Horston and Texas junior guard Aliyah Matharu.  

The pounding screams of the audience overtake the stadium as fans watch the ball release from Horston’s hands, almost in slow motion. But the ball is no good. This game is going to overtime.

In a thrilling neck-to-neck game, fans knew the little plays mattered. 

What they didn’t know is that those same plays would be the ones to help Tennessee defeat Texas in overtime 74-70 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.

No. 12 Texas and No. 16 Tennessee were both undefeated coming into Sunday’s game. The Lady Volunteers were on high alert as Texas beat the defending national champion Stanford last weekend.

The highly anticipated match started off like the rest of the Longhorns’ previous games this season: slow.

With four turnovers early in the game and several dead balls on the court within just eight minutes, the first quarter was anything but thrilling.  

But Rori Harmon, Texas’ freshman guard, was confident in her team’s ability. The Big 12 Freshman of the Week made the first shot of the game.

Harmon’s deadly offense, combined with her forced turnovers early in the game, allowed Texas to pick up the heat.

Texas gained an early 6-1 lead, as Tennessee allowed for two offensive fouls in the first three minutes of the game.

But Texas’ fiery offensive seemed to cool down as Tennessee answered back with heavy ball pressure, drawing three offensive fouls from Texas with less than five minutes to go in the first.  

The back-and-forth offensive and defensive tradeoff between the Longhorns and the Lady Volunteers continued for the rest of the first quarter and the rest of the game.

While Texas seemed to be doing well offensively, with Matharu shooting open layups, Harmon forcing turnovers, and senior guard Audrey Warren splashing her first 3-pointer of the game, Tennessee struggled defensively, with missed rebounds and sloppy offensive fouls.

And just when Texas garnered a lead, Tennessee’s offense and defense clicked into place. Little plays ultimately made the match a game of catch-up.

With less than five seconds left in the first half, Horston’s layup gave Tennessee a one-point lead over Texas at the half for a score of 29-28.

The pace picked up in the second half, and things started to look up for Texas at the start of the third quarter.

Texas’ defense picked up steam, forcing 13 turnovers. Between Matharu’s three 3-pointers and Harmon’s assists, the Longhorns remained ahead at the end of the third for a score of 49-39.

But the start of the fourth quarter was met with Horton’s ability to connect with the rim and finish through traffic, draining a three with a defender in her face.

The combined assists and an incredible defensive game from Tennessee’s junior center Tamari Key, who ended the game with a triple-double, allowed Tennessee to close the gap at the end of the fourth quarter, pushing the game into overtime.

The same pattern that emerged between the two teams followed into overtime, as the Longhorns and the Lady Volunteers traded shots in what seemed like a pingpong battle.  

But with Harmon’s missed layup, Warren out due to an injury, Matharu’s missed free throw and Tennessee connecting with the rim for 15 points, things were looking grim for Texas.

With Texas in foul trouble and no time left on the shot clock, Tennessee secured the win in overtime.

Texas is now 3-1 and will host CSUN next Saturday at 1 p.m.