The Tennessee Lady Vols had no problem taking down Tennessee Tech Wednesday, 76-48, thanks to a career performance from Tess Darby at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The 6-foot-1 Darby, who has started every game this season with senior Rae Burrell out with a knee injury, scored a career-high 12 points, all off 3-pointers. The sophomore has gotten more confident with each game, scoring 11 points against Kansas in Las Vegas last Friday.
"Tess is doing what we felt like she could do for us," Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper said. "We've seen it the whole summer in the fall, that she can really knock down shots. It makes things easier for everyone else, when you got someone out there that can stretch the defense and I'm happy for our team, because it makes our offense smoother and easier, but also really happy for her."
No. 10 Tennessee (7-0) outscored the Golden Eagles 38-18 in the last two quarters, putting the game away early for the second game in a row.
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Alexus Dye finding offensive groove
Tennessee transfer Alexus Dye has started all season, averaging 8.5 points per game. She started the season with a double-double, but has been hot and cold with scoring. The last two games she's scored in double figures, with 11 points against Oklahoma State and 20 against Tennessee Tech. Dye added nine rebounds, five off of the offensive glass.
"Alexus can do it all, offensively and defensively," Darby said. "But you know, that's not a surprise to us. We see it every day in practice. I mean, she gets every board, offensive and defense, and she has her elbow shot, and she can knock it down."
The Lady Vols will need her consistency as the season goes on, but she's trending in the right direction. Dye has thrived off of crashing the boards and getting put-backs when her jumper goes cold, but she didn't have to Wednesday. All her first-half points were off jump shots or layups, and she shot 66.7% overall.
"Really, they were just leaving me open," Dye said. "They were just leaving me open and I knew they just couldn't guard me."
The Lady Vols scored the most points from 3-point range, something coach Kellie Harper has been wanting to see improvement in from the start of the season. Tennessee had 15 points from beyond the arc, shooting 33.3%.
"My role in this team is a shooter," Darby said. "That's my job, to come out every game, so I just have to keep doing what I'm doing, game by game."
Harper said they won't be a team that needs to shoot 25 3-pointers a game, but they still need to knock down the ones they get.
"We've got to be able to find good, open threes, in rhythm, and we have to take those," Harper said. "Sometimes, even taking them in rhythm, that gives you a better opportunity to rebound your misses. So, you know it would be nice to be able to put a few more on there, but I don't think that we want to overhaul what we're doing, taking away some two's for some of those three's."
Halftime adjustment success
In the first two quarters, Tennessee Tech scored 30 points, on pace to outscore the average of 53.7 Tennessee has allowed its opponents. The Golden Eagles (2-5) were 3-for-9 from 3-point range, taking the lead for half of the first quarter.
Tennessee gave up too many easy points in the first two quarters and got back to its stout defense in the third quarter, only allowing Tech to score five points.
"We got overwhelmed in the third quarter," Tennessee Tech coach Kim Rosamond said. "The third quarter is what buried us. (Tennessee) started keeping the ball in front ... their intensity raised in the third quarter and ours did not. I did not think we handled it well.
"Instead of attacking that with aggressiveness and confidence, I thought our pace slowed and then we got back on our heels."
The fourth quarter wasn't much better for the Golden Eagles, only scoring 13 points. Tennessee Tech shot 29.3% compared to Tennessee's 47.9%.
The Lady Vols are on the road at Virginia Tech on Sunday (2 p.m., ACC Network) and then will play five straight home games before beginning SEC play on Dec. 30.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Tess Darby, Alexus Dye help Tennessee Lady Vols roll past Tennessee Tech