Kellie Harper has passed her first big test.
The Lady Vols improved to 3-0 on Monday night, upsetting the 15th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Tennessee was dominant, establishing a lead to start the second half and never looking back. They held a ten point advantage the rest of the way, toppling Notre Dame 74-63.
For Harper, it was an extremely early signature win.
“I just wanted it for them so bad,” Harper said after the game. “They were wanting to get this and do it right. You can want it, but you don’t know what it takes to win. We kept the focus on our defense. Let’s lock them down defensively. I am so proud of them.”
Tennessee overcame 28 (!!) turnovers to win this one, riding the effort of Rennia Davis. She poured in 33 points, along with ten rebounds. It was the first time a Lady Vol had turned in that kind of effort since Candace Parker.
Rennia Davis is the first @LadyVol_Hoops player with 30 points and 10 rebounds against a ranked opponent since Candace Parker did it against Notre Dame in the 2008 Sweet 16. (Via @ESPNStatsInfo) pic.twitter.com/vgHw2YUxOp— ESPN Women's Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) November 12, 2019
Davis was 12-20 from the field, including 5-9 from three-point range.
Jazmine Massengill, filling in for Zaay Green who tore her ACL over the weekend, helped Tennessee’s massive advantage on the boards, pulling down 13 rebounds on the night. She added nine assists and four blocks as well.
Tamari Key and Jordan Horston each hit double figures for Tennessee, adding 11 and 12 points, respectively.
How big was this win for Tennessee? Consider this — that was Notre Dame’s first non-UConn loss at home in the last 114 games.
FINAL#LadyVols - 74— Louis Fernandez Jr (@LouisWBIR) November 12, 2019
No. 15 Notre Dame - 63
Kellie Harper picks up her first win against a ranked opponent as the Lady Vol head coach. It’s the first time ND has lost to a team not named UConn at home in 114 games.
Harper’s first game was dicey at the end against ETSU with Tennessee narrowly coming out on top 82-78. Tonight? Much more convincing.
The Lady Vols will see the schedule lighten up for the rest of November, taking on Tennessee State, Stetson, Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Air Force. The next marquee matchup will take place against No. 22 Texas on December 8th.
But so far, so good for Coach Harper.