Leading by seven points with under five minutes to play against South Carolina, Glory Johnson thought she had it all figured out.
"I felt like it was our game'' Tennessee's senior forward said. "We just have to play good defense. We just have to score every once and awhile and keep the lead and it's our game."
She had the right idea but the wrong team in mind.
The Gamecocks made the key defensive plays and hit the big shots down the stretch. La'Keisha Sutton's two free throws with 12 seconds left completed a poised rally and a stunning 64-60 SEC women's basketball victory Thursday night before a crowd of 15,021 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
For No. 8 Tennessee (16-6, 7-2 SEC), the loss ended its 28-game home winning streak in conference play, a streak that began after a 78-62 loss to LSU on Feb. 14, 2008.
For South Carolina (18-5, 7-3), the victory was its first against UT since 1980 and its first in Knoxville ever.
"I really can't put it into words right now,'' said Sutton, who scored 12 points. "It hasn't hit me yet."
The result felt like a wicked slap in the face to Johnson.
"We have home-court advantage,'' she said. "We're sleeping in our own beds before the game. We're having a great pregame meal. We're completely prepared with the scouting report from our coaches. So this loss is on us. There are no excuses."
There was a big reason, however. South Carolina guard Markeshia Grant scored a game-high 27 points, connecting on all seven of her team's 3-pointers.
The 5-foot-6 senior got the upset bid rolling with 15 first-half points. And she kept the dream alive by hitting a transition trey with 3:57 left, which cut UT's advantage to 57-55. The basket was her first in nearly 10 minutes.
"I was just confident in my shot and I knocked it down,'' Grant said.
The Lady Vols had no defensive answer for Grant until they reached down the bench for reserve Kamiko Williams. The junior guard face-guarded Grant and chased her all over the court, even blocking one of her jumpers.
But she lost Grant in transition for the aforementioned trey, which gave the Gamecocks new life.
"I was trying to get to the deepest person,'' Williams said. "I kind of lost track of her."
Even when she missed, Grant helped South Carolina's comeback. Her air-ball jumper was caught by Ashley Bruner, who scored a rebound basket to keep the deficit at three, 60-57, with 3:20 left.
"A player like that can't come to Tennessee and have 27 points on our floor,'' Johnson said. "She basically led her team to victory tonight.
But she needed some followers at the end.
The Gamecocks stole a pass by Tennessee's Ariel Massengale to set up another transition basket and pull within a point. After a defensive stop, Ieasia Walker, Carolina's other double-figure scorer with 11 points, waited for UT's Meighan Simmons to fly by on defense before driving for a layup and the lead for good at 61-60 with 2:04 left.
Sutton closed out the victory by hustling for an offensive rebound, which forced Tennessee to foul.
"I thought they had big plays when they needed to, hit big shots,'' UT associate head coach Holly Warlick said.
Conversely, Johnson had a big miss right at the rim inside the final minute, failing to convert a shot that would've tied the score.
Although Johnson led UT with 13 points, she was limited to 26 playing minutes by foul trouble.
Drawing Johnson fouls with shot fakes was part of a South Carolina plan that drew a nod of respect from UT coach Pat Summitt.
"To say we didn't play particularly well for 40 minutes tonight would be an understatement, but you have to credit Carolina for that'' she said. "They executed a great game plan from start to finish and showed it over and over for 40 minutes."