Tennessee honored its past with grace and ease Thursday night.
Despite a valiant comeback, the present turned out to be a different story.
LSU scored an 80-77 SEC women’s basketball victory over the Lady Vols before a crowd of 14,437 at Thompson-Boling Arena, ending a seven-game losing streak in the series.
Led by Danielle Ballard’s career high-tying 25, the No. 16 Lady Tigers (11-2, 1-0 SEC) led by as many as 16 points and scored their most points against UT in the series since a 78-62 victory here in 2008.
No. 3 Tennessee (11-2, 0-1) erased 15 points from that deficit. But Isabelle Harrison, who scored a game-high 26 points, missed a potential tying free throw with 13.9 seconds left. Then Andraya Carter missed a final 3-point try.
Former Lady Vol Candace Parker was honored beforehand as her No. 3 jersey was retired.
LSU set out to spoil Tennessee’s special night by utilizing a lot of rebounding and a lot of Ballard.
The Lady Tigers gathered 13 offensive rebounds in the first half, which translated into a 13-4 edge in second-chance points.
Ballard, a sophomore guard from Memphis, had 17 points and 7 rebounds by the break. She had scored in double figures just once in her previous six games.
Tennessee was hurt by the loss of Bashaara Graves. The sophomore forward departed about seven minutes into the game with an apparent right leg injury. She returned in the second half with her leg wrapped.
LSU was hurt by the early loss of starters Theresa Plaisance and Raigyne Moncrief, who picked up two fouls apiece. After leading by as many as five points, the Lady Tigers trailed at halftime, 44-40.