Knoxville, Tenn.--(UTSports) Tennessee led by as many as 12, but tremendous 3-point shooting by Notre Dame carried the second-ranked Irish to an 86-70 defeat over the #11/10 Lady Vols.
The top 3-point shooting team in the nation knocked down 10-of-20 from beyond the arc to turn its largest deficit of the season into a 16-point victory and remain perfect at 17-0.
Kayla McBride led the Irish with 22 points. She was joined by four others in double-figures: Natalie Achonwa (15), Michaela Mabrey (15), Madison Cable (12) and Jewell Loyd (11).
Tennessee (14-4 overall) suffered its fourth consecutive loss to Notre Dame after winning the first 20 in the series.
Meighan Simmons led Tennessee with a game-high 23 points. Ariel Massengale tallied all of her 14 points in the first half, as she
converted her first five shots of the game. Isabelle Harrison had her ninth double-double of the year with 13 points and 16 rebounds.
After a strong start for Tennessee, the game turned midway through the second half.
Notre Dame nailed three trifectas in a row as Mabrey made a pair and Madison Cable added another to put Notre Dame ahead 58-51 with a little more than 12 minutes remaining in the second half.
The Irish pulled away from there. Notre Dame went on a 13-0 run to silence the enthusiastic crowd of 13,346 clad in orange and blue. Loyd's layup with 6:20 left finished the spurt as Notre Dame led 73-56.
The Irish's bench which has been potent all season, racked up 36 points headed up by Cable, Loyd and Mabrey.
Facing their largest deficit of the season, Notre Dame tightened up its defense and held Tennessee to just one made field goal on 18 attempts bridging the two halves. The Irish took their first lead since the game's opening minutes, 49-48, on a free throw by Reimer with 15:27 left.
Andraya Carter followed a fast break miss by Simmons to regain a UT lead at 50-49.
That was the Lady Vols' last lead of the evening.
The Irish outscored Tennessee, 45-24, in the second half.
Tennessee was sensational in the first half, jumping out to a 46-41 lead thanks to red-hot shooting. It was only the second time the Irish trailed at halftime all season.
The Lady Vols made 56 percent from the floor in the first half, knocking down 19-of-34 field goals. Massengale (14) and Simmons (12) combined for 26 first-half points.
Tennessee's 46 points were the most Notre Dame has allowed in any half all season.
Massengale got off to a strong start, knocking down her first five field goal attempts including a pair of long 3-pointers to put the Lady Vols ahead 28-18, 10 minutes into the game. Tennessee made 12 of its first 18 shots from the floor.
A steal and assist by Massengale set up Graves for a lay-up to put Tennessee ahead by 12 at 39-27 with 5:22 left in the half.
Notre Dame had a mini 6-0 spurt in the final minutes to cut the halftime deficit to five.
The 12-point deficit was the largest of the season for Notre Dame. The most they had trailed by all season was seven at Oregon State on Dec. 29. The Irish rallied to win 70-58 in that game.
That was also the only other game Notre Dame trailed at the half.
Tennessee returns to action on Thursday as the Lady Vols return to conference play against Florida. The contest, which will serve as UT's
`We Back Pat' Game tips off at the early time of 6:30 p.m. ET, and airs on SportSouth and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.