KNOXVILLE — Sara Puckett scored a career-high 24 points and No. 15 Tennessee closed out overtime with a 9-0 run to beat Memphis 84-74 on Monday night.
Jillian Hollingshead sank two free throws and Puckett followed with a layup to give Tennessee (2-1) a 73-69 lead 48 seconds into OT. Alasia Smith had back-to-back layups to pull Memphis (1-2) even with 2:51 remaining. Jewel Spear scored a go-ahead layup at the 1:54 mark and the Lady Vols stayed in front from there by sinking 7 of 8 free throws.
Puckett made 9 of 19 shots with two 3-pointers, adding eight rebounds for Tennessee. Spear finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for her fourth career double-double. Jasmine Powell scored 17 with six boards. Hollingshead totaled 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
Kai Carter had 18 points to lead the Lady Tigers. Madison Griggs had 16 points and three steals. Ki’Ari Cain scored 11 and grabbed five rebounds off the bench. Smith totaled 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Cain sank back-to-back 3-pointers in a 12-0 second-quarter run and Memphis turned a 20-20 tie after one quarter into a 36-32 lead at halftime.
Puckett hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, scoring eight in a 14-0 run to give Tennessee a 48-40 lead with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Hollingshead had two straight layups, Puckett sank two free throws and the Lady Vols pushed their lead to nine in the first 91 seconds of the fourth quarter. Cain and Raven Sims made layups in the finals 13 seconds for Memphis to knot the score at 69 and force overtime.
Tennessee has won 20 straight in a series that dates to 1974, but it was the first meeting since 2001. The Tigers lone win was 79-75 during the 1978-79 season.
Tennessee is led by Kellie (Jolly) Harper in her fifth season. Memphis is led by first-year coach Alex (Fuller) Simmons. Both players played for Tennessee’s legendary Hall-of-Fame coach Pat Summitt. Harper played point guard from 1995-99, winning three straight NCAA titles from 1996-1998. Simmons (2004-09) was a forward/center on Tennessee’s last two championship teams in 2007 and 2008.
Tennessee has won 17 in a row against in-state schools and 33 of 34. The Lady Vols are 260-61-1 all time against four-year schools in Tennessee. Their last loss to a Tennessee school was a 76-69 loss to Vanderbilt in February of 2019.