KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- The third-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols held off Texas' mid-game rallies to pull away for a 75-61 victory Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Texas cut Tennessee's lead to one point three times, but the Lady Vols got timely scoring from their veteran players to improve to 8-0 this season.
Sophomore Isabelle Harrison led the Lady Vols by matching her career high with 18 points to go along with eight rebounds. Junior Arielle Massengale added 15 points, 11 of them coming in the second half. She also dished out a team-leading seven assists.
Texas (6-3) was led offensively by Chassidy Fussell and Nneka Enemkpali, who both finished with 12 points.
Tennessee opened the second half with a 5-0 run, but Texas eventually closed the lead to 35-34. Faced with another Longhorn rally, the Lady Vols responded with a 9-0 run.
Junior Cierra Burdick hit a jumper on the right wing on an assist by Ariel Massengale to give Tennessee a 42-34 lead with 13:19 left. Mercedes Russell added a pair of free throws less than a minute later to stretch the Lady Vols' lead to 10.
Tennessee led by as many as 15 points in the second half, going up 65-50 on a layup by senior Meighan Simmons with 4:34 left. Simmons finished with 13 points, scoring 11 in the second half.
Coming off the bench for just the second time this season, Burdick helped Tennessee on both ends of the court. She finished with 10 points and eight bounds.
With the victory, the Lady Vols opened the season with an 8-0 record for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Tennessee out rebounded Texas 45-37, marking the first time a team has had more rebounds in a game against the Longhorns this year.
The Lady Vols opened the game on an 11-2 run and led the rest of the way, though Texas slowly closed in on Tennessee's lead. The Lady Vols did not score in the final 4:12 of the first half, and a jumper by Krystle Henderson brought the Longhorns within one point, 28-27 at halftime.
Harrison led Tennessee at halftime with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting from the field and added four rebounds. Eight Lady Vols were in the scoring column in the first half.
Sunday's game was Tennessee's first contest since winning the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas on Nov. 28 and 29 against Virginia and SMU.
The Lady Vols have four more games on schedule to close out the 2013 calendar year. Tennessee plays the first of those games Saturday with a home contest against Troy at 2 p.m.
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