Ariel Massengale made up for lost time Thursday night and she was quick about it.
Tennessee’s point guard returned from first-half foul trouble to lead the Lady Vols’ second half charge. With Massengale running the show, the Lady Vols turned a dicey halftime tie into an 80-56 women’s basketball victory before a crowd of 10,508 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Massengale scored 13 of her game-high 16 points in the second half for No. 4 Tennessee (3-0).
Mercedes Russell scored 15.
The Lady Vols were never caught after Massengale opened the second half with one of her four 3-pointers.
Ashlen Dewart led Chattanooga (1-1) with 13 points.
After losing to Chattanooga 80-71 last season, Tennessee’s motivation was clear. Chattanooga had its own agenda, however, and the Lady Mocs came prepared to pursue it.
Their spacing and movement spread the floor and their ball movement created open shots. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Taylor Hall and former Lady Vol Faith Dupree gave the Lady Mocs an early 16-9 lead.
Tennessee eventually pulled even at 18 after an Andraya Carter trey. The Lady Vols led by as many as four points, 22-18, after a Meighan Simmons steal and run-out layup.
But UT couldn’t shake free from its stubborn foe. Early foul trouble limited the impact of not only Massengale but also forward Bashaara Graves, who played just eight minutes in the first half.
Ka’Vonne Towns’ layup pulled Chattanooga even at the break at 32.