Crystal Dangerfield scored 14 points and No. 3 UConn used a dominant third quarter to beat 23rd-ranked Tennessee 60-45 on Thursday night — the first matchup in 13 years between the teams whose rivalry dominated the sport for over a decade.
Trailing by three at the half, the Huskies (17-1) scored 17 of the first 19 points in the third quarter, taking a 45-33 lead on Dangerfield’s 3-pointer with 1:45 left in the period. UConn led by 11 after three and Tennessee could get no closer in the fourth quarter.
Rennia Davis scored 16 points to lead the Lady Vols (15-4).
Thursday night provided a little bit of nostalgia for those who remembered how these two teams carried women’s basketball for over a decade since their first historic meeting in 1995 that was a 1 vs 2 showdown. They played 22 times over a 12-year span, with each one being a circle-the-calendar game whether it was in Tennessee, Connecticut or the NCAA Tournament.
The series ended after the 2007 season when then-Tennessee coach Pat Summitt called it off. Geno Auriemma said at the time that Summitt had accused the Huskies of a recruiting violation. Summitt never went public into specifics about why she ended the series. She died in 2016 at age 64 of Alzheimer’s disease.
Former Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, a longtime assistant of Summitt’s who helped set up Thursday’s game, told the AP that the reason she agreed to restart the series was because it will benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation. The two teams will play in Knoxville next season. Proceeds from both games will go to it, along with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
UConn donated $10,000 to Summitt’s foundation with Auriemma and Tennessee coach Kellie Harper taking part in a ceremony at the half. The Huskies also are auctioning off the black uniforms they wore for the game with the proceeds going to the foundation.