Spani’s 15 points came off the bench
dominated the paint, snagging 20 offensive rebounds, which led to 23 second-chance points.
Tennessee raced to a 45-27 halftime lead and never looked back.
Texas was victimized by poor shooting in the half (25 percent from the field) and didn’t find a rhythm until Fussell and teammate Nneka Enemkpali got hot in the second half.
Texas climbed within 10 points of the lead at 7363 on Enemkpali’s driving layup with 8 minutes, 15 seconds to go. After Warlick called a timeout, the Lady Vols countered with a jumper by guard Kamiko Williams, ending the Texas rally.
The Longhorns never got within single digits of the lead.
Spani was the game’s key player, Texas coach Karen Aston said. Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-1inch senior scored all 15 of her points in the first half, hitting 5 of her 6 shots from the field. Get complete Longhorns coverage at
Spani deflected individual praise.
“We can be a tough team to play because so many of us are capable of scoring,” she said.
Enemkpali played well in defeat, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Freshman Imani McGee-Stafford, starting her second game, contributed eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Aston said she was encouraged by her team’s effort — compared with a 62-42 loss to UCLA on Dec. 8.
“I’m pleased with the second-half effort, but we got ourselves in trouble sometimes by shooting too quickly,” Aston said. “You’re never pleased with losing, and you’re not going to beat anybody giving up 90 points. But I do feel like we responded from that UCLA game by playing better team basketball.”
Fussell set a career high in scoring; she had tallied 30 points against California and Oklahoma during her sophomore year.
Texas honored its new NCAA champion volleyball team with a rousing halftime welcome. Coach Jerritt Elliott and his players carried their championship trophy aloft as they walked onto center court.
As for basketball, the Longhorns will return to the Erwin Center on Thursday to play Cornell. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m.