GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) ) — Evina Westbrook and Rennia Davis combined for 39 points, 27 in the second half, and Tennessee edged LSU 69-66 in a critical second-round game of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Thursday.
Both teams are considered on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. A win was crucial, especially for Tennessee (19-11), which has never missed a tournament since the NCAA started running it for women’s basketball in 1982.
Tennessee faces regular-season champion and fifth-ranked Mississippi State in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Westbrook had 20 points, including 15 after halftime on 7-of-10 shooting. Davis added 19, with 12 after the break. Davis made 3 of 4 free throws in the last 25.4 seconds.
Khayla Pointer had 13 of her 21 points in the first half when the Tigers (16-13) opened a 35-28 lead. Ayana Mitchell and Faustine Aifuwa had 16 points apiece, and Mitchell grabbed 11 rebounds.
Tennessee opened the second half with a 10-4 run to get within one but didn’t get over the hump until the fourth quarter. Davis made a 3-pointer to get the lead to five and Westbrook made it six with less than two minutes to go. But LSU got the deficit to one possession in the final minute. Westbrook made a nifty drive with 40.8 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
LSU had one last chance when Davis made 1 of 2 free throws with 10.8 seconds left. A contested 3-pointer went off the side of the rim with time running out.