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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Bashaara Graves had 15 points and 11 rebounds while No. 3 Tennessee used a 21-0 run midway through the game to beat winless Oakland 84-50 on Sunday.
The Lady Vols (5-0) remained unbeaten as they head to the Bahamas for the Junkaroo Jam. Tennessee faces Virginia in its opening game Thursday.
Meighan Simmons added 14 points, Ariel Massengale had 13, Isabelle Harrison had 11 and Mercedes Russell scored 10 for Tennessee. Victoria Lipscomb scored 13 for Oakland (0-5).
Oakland outhustled Tennessee at the start of the game and only trailed 28-27 with 2:07 left in the half when Amy Carlton missed a 3-pointer that would have put the Grizzlies ahead. Tennessee's Jordan Reynolds sank a 3-pointer 10 seconds later to help Tennessee lead 34-27 at halftime. Tennessee then scored the first 15 points of the second half and never looked back.
The game took place two days after a dedication ceremony for a statue honoring former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who remains on staff as head coach emeritus and watched Sunday's game from the stands. She sat between Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings and Billie Moore, who coached Summitt on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team. Summitt received a standing ovation during a timeout as a video of Friday's ceremony played on the scoreboard.
Sunday's contest was supposed to serve as little more than a tuneup for the Lady Vols before they headed to the Bahamas. Oakland instead made Tennessee work for its fifth straight victory.
The Grizzlies (0-5) outworked and outhustled Tennessee for most of the first half. One week after Tennessee pulled down 33 offensive rebounds in an 87-76 victory over Georgia Tech, the Lady Vols had just two offensive boards in the first half Sunday.
Oakland outrebounded Tennessee 24-20 and outblocked the Lady Vols 4-1 in the first half despite facing a major height disadvantage. Oakland had three starters 5-foot-8 or shorter and didn't play anyone taller than 6-foot-1. Tennessee has six players 6-2 or taller, including 6-6 reserve center Mercedes Russell and 6-3 starting center Isabelle Harrison.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick responded to her team's sluggish first-half performance by altering her lineup to start the second half. Russell, Andraya Carter and Jordan Reynolds joined usual starters Graves and Massengale on the floor. Simmons, Harrison and Cierra Burdick were on the bench at the beginning of the second half after opening the game in the starting lineup.
The plan paid off.
Tennessee showed much more energy in the start of the second half, as Graves scored six points during a 21-0 run that broke the game open. Oakland committed three turnovers in the first 41 seconds of the half and faced a 22-point deficit by the time Kim Bee scored the Grizzlies' first second-half points with 15:19 remaining.
The Lady Vols shot 8 of 17 from 3-point range for the game and also finally utilized its height advantage as the game wore on. Tennessee outrebounded Oakland 24-13 in the second half and finished the game with 44 rebounds to Oakland's 37.