Makayla Epps crouched in the lane with her head in her hands.
The crowd at Memorial Coliseum shared in her dismay after watching No. 10 Kentucky fail to score the game winner four times in the final 16 seconds to upset No. 6 Tennessee.
The shots didn't fall and the Cats did, 73-72, on Thursday night in a rematch of last season's Southeastern Conference title game, which the Lady Vols also won by a point.
"It was more a 'dang', a 'shoot' type moment," Epps said of her seconds alone on the floor at the end of the game. "Losing by one. I'd probably rather lose by 25 than lose by one. At 25, you've got no chance; at one, you're right there."
Kentucky had several "dang" and "shoot" moments, shots the Cats would like back and shots they wished they'd defended better.
"Tough game to lose," said Coach Matthew Mitchell, who was pleading with officials for fouls on two of the Cats' final shots. "Tennessee made more plays than we did and played harder in the second half, and we didn't play any defense in the second half, so we got beat."
In a game that had seven ties and 12 lead changes, Epps did all she could to bring the Cats back from the brink in the second half, scoring UK's final 10 points, including back-to-back three-pointers.
But they wouldn't be enough as the Cats failed to connect in those final seconds.
Clinging to a one-point lead in the closing moments, the Tennessee players said they huddled and talked about defense.
In the final 16 seconds, there was a missed three-pointer by Jennifer O'Neill, a missed jumper by Epps, a contested shot in the lane by Alexis Jennings before another heave by O'Neill with less than a second left on the clock.
"We've laid our hat on defense all season," said UT's Cierra Burdick, who had 16 points. "This is the position we want to be in.
"There's no doubt in my mind we were going to win that game since we walked on the court with 40 minutes to play, I knew we were going to win that basketball game."
Epps did what she could to cause doubt to creep in for the Lady Vols, who had lost their last two games at Memorial Coliseum.
The sophomore guard scored 20 of her game-high 23 points in the second half, but the Volunteers had a star of their own in Isabelle Harrison.
When the game went back and forth in the final four minutes, Tennessee (18-3, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) was able to go inside and get points when it needed them, especially from Harrison.
"She works before she gets the ball, and I thought she did a great job of that tonight and didn't get frustrated," Vols Coach Holly Warlick said of the forward, who scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win.
Visibly frustrated after the loss, Mitchell shook his head over Tennessee shooting 60 percent in the second half and 48.3 percent for the game.
"We had some mystifying defensive possessions out there where it didn't look like it was important for us to win," he said. "We've got to get that corrected."
Tennessee flexed its own defensive muscle midway through the first half, keeping Kentucky scoreless for nearly six minutes, but the Lady Vols had some scoring trouble of their own and weren't able to grab more than a five-point lead.
The Cats showed some defensive grit, too, holding the Volunteers without a field goal for the final 3:06 of the half and forcing three turnovers, which they turned into five points.
Kentucky's offensive surge in the final 2:30 of the first half came from an unlikely source: Jelleah Sidney.
After missing most of the season with knee soreness, Sidney scored seven points, including five to start a 10-1 run to end the first half and give UK a 31-25 advantage.
Sidney's seven points in the first half matched her points total for the entire season, and her five rebounds helped the Cats grab a 21-19 rebounding edge over a much bigger Lady Vols team. UK won the rebounding battle 39-38.
The second half started slow for Kentucky again, with the Cats missing 10 of their first 12 shots and surrendering their lead 45-44 on Jaime Nared's back-to-back buckets with 11:49 to play.
The Volunteers grabbed the lead for good on Bashaara Graves' two free throws with 3:47 to go and feeding Harrison in the middle to seal the victory. Graves added 11 points and seven rebounds for Tennessee.
It was a night full of "dang" and "shoot" moments all around for Kentucky (16-5, 5-3).
"We had a lot of opportunities to put the ball in the basket, but we came up a little short," Kentucky senior guard Bria Goss said. "Now we've got to bounce back."