KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ariel Massengale scored 16 points and No. 4 Tennessee beat Chattanooga 80-56 on Thursday night in the Lady Vols' home opener.
After a low-energy first half, Tennessee (3-0) went into the paint to start the second and drew three quick fouls by Chattanooga (1-1). Massengale opened the half with a quick 3-pointer and four free throws during a 12-2 run that put the Lady Vols up 44-34 with 16:59 left.
A minute later, Meighan Simmons wrestled the ball from the hands of Taylor Hall and dished it to Bashaara Graves, whose layup pushed the lead to 48-36. Massengale hit another 3 and Jasmine Jones made a layup for Tennessee, and the Lady Mocs never recovered.
Mercedes Russell added 15 points for the Lady Vols, while Graves scored 11 and Simmons had 10.
Ashlen Dewart led Chattanooga with 13 points, Hall scored 12 and Meghan Downes had 11.
Early in the game, Chattanooga appeared poised for a second-straight upset of its in-state rival. The Lady Mocs opened the season with an 80-71 victory on their home court, spoiling Holly Warlick's first game as Tennessee head coach and ending their 19-game losing streak in the series.
Though the Lady Vols outshot the Lady Mocs 43.8 percent to 40.7 percent in the first half of this game, Chattanooga set an upbeat tone with six 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes.
A 3-pointer 11 minutes into the first half by Faith Dupree, who spent part of her freshman year at Tennessee before transferring to Chattanooga, put the Lady Mocs up 16-9, their largest lead of the game. The Lady Vols responded with a 6-0 run, and the teams were tied at 32 at halftime.
The loss to Chattanooga a year ago has been halftime locker room fodder for Tennessee during the young season as they have struggled with slow starts.
The Lady Mocs clearly were comfortable against their opponent, helped by the return of three starters. Chattanooga's first-year coach Jim Foster also is no stranger to facing Tennessee, having done so as coach of Vanderbilt and Ohio State during his Hall of Fame career.
The Lady Mocs' shooting slipped to 22.9 percent in the second half. Tennessee hit 52.9 percent of its shots in the second half and finished the game with a 50-33 rebounding advantage.