KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ashton Prechtel refused to hesitate when the opportunity to help her team presented itself, even though she had lacked momentum for most of the game.
Coming off the bench for No. 3 Stanford and having missed all five shots she took in the first three quarters, Prechtel connected on three consecutive fourth-quarter 3-pointers to help the Cardinal win over No. 7 Tennessee Saturday, 74-63.
The Volunteers (9-1) scored the first 14 points of the third quarter – while Stanford (8-2) missed its first 13 shots and had eight turnovers – and cut a 17-point halftime deficit to three.
That set the stage for Prechtel to step up early in the fourth quarter, when she scored 11 of her 12 points to rescue Stanford.
“Ashton gives us a different look,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said of the 6-foot-5 junior who is comfortable on the perimeter. “She can spread the floor. She’s more than just a shooter, she can rebound and block shots.”
Prechtel said her coach told her she needed to keep shooting after her early misses.
“I had confidence it was finally going to go in,” Prechtel said.
“Complete breakdowns on our part,” was the way Tennessee coach Kellie Harper described the defense on Prechtel. “If we were playing football, it would have been busted coverage.”
Haley Jones scored 18 points and had 19 rebounds for Stanford. Lexi Hull scored 11 and Kiki Iriafen added 10.
“Basketball is a game of spurts,” VanDerveer said. “(Tennessee) got the momentum (in the third quarter). We helped them a little bit. We were very sloppy.”
Alexus Dye scored 10 of her 14 points in the third quarter to spark Tennessee. Jordan Horston scored 19 and grabbed 12 rebounds and Sara Puckett added 10 points.
“When we started, the nerves got to us,” Horston said. “The second half, we got under control. You saw what we can do. We can beat any team. I’ll stand on that.”
The inside presence for each team – Stanford’s Cameron Brink and Tamari Key of Tennessee – were in foul trouble the entire game, which limited their effectiveness.
“(Key) impacts everything we do,” said Harper. “On defense, she’s a game-changer. She impacts both ends of the court.”
One glaring weakness for the Vols was free-throw shooting: They connected on just 16 of 29 (55%). Tennessee was outrebounded for the first time this season, 52-43.
ODDS & ENDS
In December 2020, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer celebrated passing Tennessee icon Pat Summitt as the winningest coach in women’s college basketball. On Saturday, VanDerveer’s team was playing across the street from the statue honoring the legend. … The Lady Vols came into the game No. 1 in the country in rebounds (averaging 50 a game) and have held all nine previous opponents at or below 36% shooting from the field.
Stanford: One way to be ready for the NCAA tournament in March is to play the best teams during the regular season. Stanford has done that with Maryland, Indiana and Tennessee – and No. 1 South Carolina is on the horizon.
Tennessee: The Volunteers’ signature wins so far this season have been against Texas and South Florida, the two teams that had beaten Stanford. Tennessee coach Kellie Harper didn’t miss the chance to point that out to her players in hopes of fueling the chip on their shoulders heading into the game.
Stanford: At No. 1 South Carolina on Tuesday before beginning the Pac-12 schedule with Washington on New Year’s Eve.
Tennessee: Hosts East Tennessee State on Monday, then Chattanooga on Dec. 27 for SEC play.