KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Walker scored 14 points, Alexus Dye had a double-double and No. 15 Tennessee turned a 9-0 fourth-quarter run into a 17-2 game-closing surge to beat Southern Illinois 59-49 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
Walker had seven points and Tamari Key and Sara Puckett both had the only five points they scored in the critical run after the Salukis had the Lady Vols on the ropes.
Southern Illinois, which led 30-27 at the half and 42-38 after three quarters, was up 47-42 after a deep 3-pointer by Makenzie Silvey and a fastbreak layup by Quierra Love with 5:24 to play. At that point the Salukis had made eight 3-pointers and the Lady Vols were 0 for 13.
Walker then hit a 3-pointer and Puckett followed with another 3 for the lead before Key made three free throws to make it 51-47 in favor of Tennessee. Abby Brockmeyer scored for Southern Illinois but Puckett and Key made layups and Walker scored four points in the last 36 seconds to wrap up the win.
Dye had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Tennessee. Rae Burrell, the top returning scorer, added 12 points but did not play in the second half after falling down hard on a layup with 1:24 left in the first half. She was grabbing her right knee and did not put any weight on her leg as she left the court. Tennessee was also without starter Jordan Horston due to an ankle injury.
Love led Southern Illinois with 13 points.
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