THE BLITZ: East Hall at West HallTimes sports video
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Bashaara Graves had 13 points and 11 rebounds to help Tennessee reach the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals for a 22nd straight season with a 75-41 win over Georgia on Friday night.
The No. 5 Lady Vols (26-4) have won the conference tournament 17 times in 35 seasons. They will face the Kentucky-Mississippi State winner on Saturday.
Tennessee, which won the tournament last season when it was also the No. 2 seed, outrebounded the Lady Bulldogs (19-12) 47-22 and held them to 27.1 percent (16 of 59) shooting. Nia Moore led Tennessee with 14 points, while Jaime Nared and Ariel Massengale finished with 10 each.
Erika Ford and Krista Donald had 13 points each to lead Georgia.
After a late-season, eight-game losing streak that put Georgia's run of 20 straight NCAA Tournament appearances in jeopardy, the Lady Bulldogs had won two straight games entering Friday.
However, after taking a 4-2 lead in the opening minutes, Georgia went more than seven minutes without scoring — during which time Tennessee went on a 15-0 run to take a 17-4 lead after a free throw by Cierra Burdick.
The scoreless stretch was just the beginning of the offensive futility for Georgia, which was 5 of 30 (16.7 percent) from the field in the first half.
Tiaria Griffin scored the first nine points for the Lady Bulldogs against the harassing Tennessee defense, but the junior was the only Georgia player to score until Nared's jumper with 10 seconds remaining in the first half. The Lady Bulldogs, other than Griffin, missed their first 20 shots of the game before that.
Tennessee, meanwhile, had no such problems on either end of the court — scoring 21 points off 17 Georgia turnovers, including a layup on the fast break by Burdick to go up 32-9 late in the first half.
The Lady Vols have won 11 of their last 12 games, with the only loss coming at No. 3 South Carolina two weeks ago, 71-66.
All nine players scored for Tennessee, which finished 30 of 56 (53.6 percent) from the field.
The Lady Vols last failed to reach the tournament semifinals in 1993, when they were upset as the top seed in the quarterfinals by Georgia.
Georgia: The Lady Bulldogs moved up from 63rd to 55th in the NCAA's RPI standings after a win over Missouri to open the tournament on Thursday. However, after starting the season 17-3 — before a broken right leg suffered by leading scorer Shacobia Barbee — the jump might not be enough to overcome a late-season swoon.
Tennessee: With her first-half assist to Andraya Carter, Massengale became only the third Tennessee player to have 1,000 points and 500 career assists. The others are Lea Henry (1979-83) and Alexis Hornbuckle (2004-08).