Lady Vols fall to Notre Dame in Elite Eight, 73-59

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and players Vicki Baugh, left, and Alicia Manning watch in the closing minute of Tennessee's 73-59 loss to Notre Dame in an NCAA women's college basketball tournament regional final, Monday, March 28, 2011, in Dayton, Ohio.

Photo by Al Behrman, Associated Press

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and players Vicki Baugh, left, and Alicia Manning watch in the closing minute of Tennessee's 73-59 loss to Notre Dame in an NCAA women's college basketball tournament regional final, Monday, March 28, 2011, in Dayton, Ohio.

DAYTON, Ohio – Tennessee didn’t have much of a shot Monday night.

The top-seeded Lady Vols went down hard to Notre Dame 73-59 in the Dayton Regional final. Playing before a crowd of 5,708 at University of Dayton Arena, they shot 32.8 percent from the floor and bore scant resemblance to the team that was averaging nearly 80 points per game.

Point guard Skylar Diggins led a foursome of double-figure scorers that sent No. 2 seed Notre Dame (30-7) to the Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis courtesy of the program’s first women’s basketball victory over UT in 21 tries.

“The first thing the team says was ‘1-20, 1-20,’ ’’ Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “The team figured that the law of averages had them winning at least one.”

Diggins, who was voted the regional’s most outstanding player, scored a game-high 24 points. Natalie Novosel added 17. Becca Bruszewski, whose status was questionable beforehand after suffering a knee injury against Oklahoma on Saturday, scored 13 points and Brittany Mallory added 10.

“I think the growth of this team is one of the best of any team I have ever coached,’’ McGraw said.

Taber Spani and Shekinna Stricklen each scored 13 to lead Tennessee (34-3). The Lady Vols’ points added up to their third-lowest total of the season.

They had their share of offensive laments. Senior Angie Bjorklund missed all four of her field-goal attempts and scored one point in her final game. Leading scorer Meighan Simmons shot 1 for 11 and scored two points. The most prolific 3-point shooting team in program history was 4 for 19 from long range.

But UT’s biggest gripe concerned its defense, specifically a lack thereof.

“Our defense was horrible,’’ UT forward Glory Johnson said. “We were going to have to stop them in transition and we were going to have to play sound one-on-one. We didn’t.”

Diggins was a force on both ends. She complemented her scoring with four assists and was instrumental in Notre Dame’s 18-10 edge in transition points. Her pretty lob pass to Devereaux Peters led to a layup, a 60-48 lead and an early start to the celebration with 3 minutes, 39 seconds left.

On defense, Diggins recorded four of Notre Dame’s 11 steals. Add some deflections and she short-circuited several other UT possessions.

“I thought Skylar was magnificent in running the show today,’’ McGraw said. “She did an outstanding job of attacking.”

The Lady Vols were under siege from the start, beginning with foul trouble that cost them the services of two key starters.

Point guard Simmons, UT’s primary offensive spark, went to the bench with two fouls inside the first four minutes. Before the first half was half over, Johnson joined her there in the same predicament.

The Lady Vols went deep into their bench in search of scoring and found a surprise source in reserve post Vicki Baugh. She scored eight first-half points. Her 3-point play gave UT a 17-15 lead with 7:02 left in the half.

Baugh’s 3-for-4 shooting was the exception to the Lady Vols’ 30 percent misfiring before halftime. Eleven turnovers compounded their problems.

Tennessee’s Kamiko Williams, who replaced Simmons, was poke-checked from behind three times by Diggins. The third time resulted not only in a turnover but a foul and two free throws by Bruszewski.

Trailing 29-24 at halftime, Tennessee made several second-half charges and was within 51-47 with 6:28 left.

A technical foul against center Kelley Cain shortly thereafter deprived the Lady Vols of some momentum. The Fighting Irish did the rest, summoning a strong finishing kick that sent them toward their third Final Four in program history. The Lady Vols, meanwhile, trudged back to their locker room in defeat for a third straight postseason.

“I’m very disappointed in our basketball team,’’ said UT coach Pat Summitt, who referred to her group as “soft” in the locker room afterward. “I don’t think we came here with a focus. Don’t ask me why. I look at the junior class and Angie as a senior and I’m kind of lost for words why they wouldn’t come in and already know what they were going to do.”

Simmons, a freshman, was pretty upset as well. She sounded lonely in her personal plight.

“I feel like I let my team down,’’ she said. “I didn’t do the things I should’ve done. There’s just so many things I could’ve done. I don’t like this ‘could’ve, would’ve, should’ve thing.’ I just don’t like it.”

In that sense, she had plenty of anguished company.

“I thought we had overcome this,’’ forward Alicia Manning said. “At this point of the year, you can’t let another team outwork you and they outworked us. It’s hard to live with but it happened and it’s over.”

Dan Fleser covers Lady Vols basketball. He may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/fleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser/

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Comments » 181

dvols writes:

thanks mike.....

sorry , couldn't resist

clvolfan writes:

Let's think about football,NOW.

rocky_topper writes:

The Lady Vols were out-played. Pat continually had to beg them to play and try to motivate them. This team ain't nearly as good as they think they are. They lack heart! Meigham Simmons needs to be moved to the #2 and then she can shoot all she wants. We needed a true PG to keep our team in sync. Angie NEVER showed up in tournament time in all of her 4 years here.

rocky_topper writes:

Meighan was too concerned with trying to be top scorer every game. FOUL SHOOTING might be something you can think about and practice on instead of watching the other teams play in the Final Four.

rogatl2002#222395 writes:

so disappointing. terrible game plan. kamiko took how many shots? really put this one on the coaches. we had superior talent and depth. we never used our athletes. we should have pressed and run them into the ground and there we were standing around trying to play a half-court game. sorry ladies. thanks for a fun season.

tomkats3242 writes:

This one is mikes as he took away from the only team that could win a national title by playing up a new coach. We will be lucky to even finish in the top of the SEC.k Thank you butt face. It was hard watching a good team loose even if Pat had a bad coaching game playing players like Williams and Johnson as much as she did. Wake up UT fans and let the president of UT know he needs to FIRE mike hamilton.

tnaseevol writes:

I wonder if Pat is gonna be 'unhappy'

If Pat's not happy, no one's happy.

Sorry, couldn't resist, better than: it makes me sick to my stomach.

Better luck next year.

rocky_topper writes:

Playing zone was a good idea maybe two games this season, but if the Lady Vols are so out of shape they can play man-to-man which is the LADY VOL way, then run 'em and get 'em into shape!

rocky_topper writes:

UCONN would've beaten us by 50 tonight. I'd rather lose to ND!

VOLunTEAR writes:

It's simple. The BETTER team won tonight. We get "weary" of the same-ole-same-ole "trying to motivate" this team. It's a privilege to play for the Lady Vols --- but just puttin' on the uniform DOESN'T make you a champion. WAKE-UP LADIES!

OldNumber7 writes:

Go tennis team!

rocky_topper writes:

They choked because they thought they were better than they actually are and think they can always come back on teams in the second half. They are a second half lazy team! I am a LV fan by the way. Very upsetting.

Titan writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

The Lady Vols were out-played. Pat continually had to beg them to play and try to motivate them. This team ain't nearly as good as they think they are. They lack heart! Meigham Simmons needs to be moved to the #2 and then she can shoot all she wants. We needed a true PG to keep our team in sync. Angie NEVER showed up in tournament time in all of her 4 years here.

Are you talking about the Angie that was 20-23 on three pointers during the SEC tournament? THAT Angie? Yeah - that's not showing up. I'd hate for you to be grading my test paper.

cage952 writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

pat summit can't make the shots go in. neither can she defend the court. simmons took too many shots, they all shot too may threes at first, and they let that point guard run all over them. (BTW pat usually knows what she's doing. i don't blame her)

eweteaparty writes:

PHS and the coaching staff should be out pulling tires around the gym tomorrow... maybe it will help them with their game

dinfoguy writes:

I hate to say it, but this is the worst performing group of girls Pat has ever had. Very talented, but just no heart.

This set of juniors and seniors just disappear in big games.

Angie is gone and that will be an improvement. She never played big once in 4 years in the tournament.

The bigs are either slow and injured, or horribly inconsistent (Glory). I don't expect improvement till these juniors are gone.

Baylor would have destroyed us anyway...

OMike writes:

Poor coaching. Reminded me of many mens games this year. Did not play as a team.

rocky_topper writes:

in response to Titan:

Are you talking about the Angie that was 20-23 on three pointers during the SEC tournament? THAT Angie? Yeah - that's not showing up. I'd hate for you to be grading my test paper.

That is true, but I was actually referring to the NCAA tournaments. Angie had a successful Freshman year thanks to her teammates, but the three following years, well, I'm sure you watched them just as I did.

everydayisorange writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think maybe the ladies were over confident considering their record against ND 20 and 0, now 1. As far as not wanting to play a particular team, maybe you should revisit the history of the LVBB team. Pat schedules a tough season EVERY YEAR!

ladivolfan writes:

Thank you Lady Vols for making this a great season to watch you play. I'm excited about what you're going to do next year!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

My post got cut off so here goes again. I will be brief and not try to bash Pat here.

First, I saw a bad omen. I said to myself, why is Pat wearing Green tonight?

Next, and I am 100% certain of this. We were not playing Notre Dame tonight.........we had U Conn on our minds, and a bunch of assuming will lead to what we saw.

Now, an entire year to think about effort and execution. ( And, no assumptions )

rocky_topper writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

jt45 writes:

Where was Stricklins head tonight ? Simmons self destructed. Im still in shock,this was not the team Ive been watching all year. I cant remember the last game where they just stood around and allowed back door baskets.
It was pretty clear Pat went with the wrong game plan and tried to change it too late.
Im proud of the lady vols but ashamed of the way they played tonight. No inside outside shooting at all. Stricklin and Simmons could have stayed on the bench all night with no effect to the outcome.
Overconfidence killed them and as usual lately very little effort. At least Glory and Tabor came to play. Defense was awfull and Offense was even worse, whatever happened to that 3 point shooting ream that won the SEC ? Im done watching till football season.

GONAVY writes:

There was no upset. ND spanked UT. Sorry Orange Nation.

coffy73 writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

The Lady Vols were out-played. Pat continually had to beg them to play and try to motivate them. This team ain't nearly as good as they think they are. They lack heart! Meigham Simmons needs to be moved to the #2 and then she can shoot all she wants. We needed a true PG to keep our team in sync. Angie NEVER showed up in tournament time in all of her 4 years here.

I totally agree. They lacked, from the get go, the heart and desire to win. ND had it from the opening whistle. This TENN team had the talent, but not the will to win. Where was Bjorklund? Why did Coach Summitt, all season, have to pound the message about heart into their heads? These players are nowhere near motivated mentally to win a championship.

springtx_vol writes:

The ladies had a great year. Undefeated SEC Champs. They just couldn't get it done. The one real weakness that we have known about all year, no real point guard, was really exposed tonight.

The good thing, they are really only losing Angie. With the guards that are coming in, and Baugh, Cain, and Brewer completely healthy, the Lady Vols should be preseason No. 2 behind Baylor next year.

It has been a great learning experience for Symmons. Kamiko, Spani, and Avant have gotten a taste of what is expected.

- Connecticut is losing Moore and Dotson
- Stanford loses 4 seniors including Pohlen and Pedersen
- Baylor only loses Jones, probably going to be No. 1
- Notre Dame loses 4, including starters Peters, Mallory, and Bruszewski.
- Texas A&M loses almost 50% of their offense.

Things are looking good, even with this loss.

VolsToGo writes:

I love these Lady Vols and we never miss a game on TV, radio or sometimes in person. I'm no coach by any means but I think we should have gotten much more production under our basket than we got this year. It seems to me that we could put Cain and Baugh under our goal and get the ball to one of them most every possession for a close in score. However, I think we emphasize offensive rebounding so much that we also bring 2 other post players under the goal to be in place to rebound, which in turn brings 2 more opposing players and we end up with a gaggle of players all hacking and jabbing at our twin centers who then often lose the ball in all of the commotion. Looks to me like we need to spread the court some more if our plan is to score from under the basket. This might also open up some cutters. Anyway, just an observation from a pure novice. I'm sure you "coaches" out there can eat me alive. Enjoy.

bsimpg3 writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Enjoy yourself while you can troll. This is Maya Moore's last year. Unless of course cheater Geno can get the NCAA to give her another year...

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

in response to OMike:

Poor coaching. Reminded me of many mens games this year. Did not play as a team.

You are right , gotta go inside my butt . they are scared to shoot , cause they gotta go inside , inside to what .THEY NEED TO KEEP THE CAMERA OUT OF THE DRESSING ROOM AT HALF TIME.

Vols7Twins writes:

Thanks Angie for four great years. I love all you lady vols and I'm a 100% fan win or lose.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to OldNumber7:

Go tennis team!

Witch Doctor bust a gut on that one! lol
Bones never lie.

Titan writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

That is true, but I was actually referring to the NCAA tournaments. Angie had a successful Freshman year thanks to her teammates, but the three following years, well, I'm sure you watched them just as I did.

I wondered if her foot had started bothering her. Her shot looked flatter than normal and Pat didn't play her much. If she'd been healthy, Pat would normally trust her to keep hunting her shot and shooting until they started falling. She couldn't have shot much worse than the others.

springtx_vol writes:

in response to Titan:

Are you talking about the Angie that was 20-23 on three pointers during the SEC tournament? THAT Angie? Yeah - that's not showing up. I'd hate for you to be grading my test paper.

I agree that Angie did not show up during the NCAA tournament. We needed half of the Angie that played during the SEC tournament, we didn't get 25%. You expect your seniors to make an impact during the tournament. Year after year, teams that have significant senior leadership play over their heads. Look at Butler and VCU.

I didn't say that they would always win, it takes special players to win it all. UT has a few special players, we just missed the senior leadership in the last 3 games.

vol98champ writes:

The SEC was very weak this year. The last 3 games were played against teams that were much better than anyone in the SEC. We don't need tires this off season; we need to learn how to catch and pass the rock. Freshmen lost in 32; sophomores lost in 16, juniors lost in 8. Seniors?????

RatherBeDrivingaTitleist writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LVs won last 3 vs. UCANT.

VolinTally writes:

Don't post much here, but before everyone starts jumping on the players for an incredibly bad performance (and it was), I think the coaching performance was much much worse.

There really didn't seem to be a good offensive game plan. The team's depth was used ineffectively. The seemingly constant rotation didn't allow anyone to get into any type of rhythm. Focus all you want on defense and rebounding, but offense is kind of important too.

Tennessee DOES have a lot of talent, and they ARE as good as everyone believes. Unfortunately, the coaching staff, in my opinion, is the under-performer.

And then we get this ridiculous focus on CPS's halftime rants which, outside of Knoxville, come across as pompous and humorous at best.

So, I love love love the Lady Vols, but how about holding the coaches as accountable as the players.

bmaples writes:

I watched this team at the SEC championship game get played even for a half by a quick Kentucky team -- then come out and play pressure defense, grab rebounds, and out-work Kentucky for loose balls. They played LADY VOL BASKETBALL in that half. And, of course, they hit threes like there was no tomorrow -- but the threes came from their defense and their hustle.

That team was NOT the team I saw on the court tonight. Perhaps it was the pressure; after all, if they had lost that game, there was still the NCAAs. Tonight's team looked tight, tight, tight.

So -- congrats, Lady Vols, on a great year with a painful ending. Undefeated in SEC regular season, win the SEC tourney. You only lose Bjorklund, and everyone else is back. Let's see if you can learn from tonight and make a different ending next year! GLV!

Bruce in Louisville

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Vols,

You just knew the troll would be here. So very funny.......talking about the classy U Conn players. Seems this troll has forgotten the garbage mouthed Taurasi........the one coming down the court with the "F's" spilling out of her mouth.

So anyway troll, keep wagging your tongue and
we'll see about who cuts down the nets. Love your "team first" Moore taking 3's from the corner with noone under the basket.........

Trolls never give it up do they friends?

tn88volfan writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UCONN can win 10 more titles but they still will not have enough fans or interest to not have their own message board, good luck playing baylor and that dude that dunks, oh and go away troll

PureOrange writes:

I have put my heart into this team all year, but have been upset all year that they refused to play 40 minute games. They were good enough to play 20 minutes or less for most of the year, but tonight they failed to bring their heart out of the dressing room. Cannot explain how an entire team can give up and quit at such a critical time of year.

They must have been practicing with our mens team because they played just like them.

lcharley writes:

Love those Lady Vols! Wish the outcome had been different.....

Bob2793 writes:

Worst performance I've ever seen from a Lady Vol team. Happened to be at a time ND was playing a good game.

springtx_vol writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mike, for the most part, I really enjoy engaging you in sports analysis. However, when you put on the anti-UT stuff, you lose credibility. I reviewed your posts, and yes, you predicted UT would lose to ND. However, you also predicted that would lose to Marquette and Ohio State.

You know enough about sports to talk intelligently about things without getting into the gutter. You don't have to be negative about UT or Pat Summit to have interesting posts. Review my record, I have never attacked other teams or players personally. I have been critical of how they played, of decisions they made.

I have occassionally slammed a poster, especially when they are being idiotic. I am not slamming you here, you have mostly earned my respect as sports fan. You can do much better than your last couple of posts here.

Go Gonzaga. Vandersloop is special! Don't know who I will cheer for now, since Gonzaga has no chance. It won't be Notre Dame, my favorite teams in any sports are Tennessee and whomever plays Notre Dame. Baylor/UConn should be a great final, assuming that Baylor beats A&M for the fourth time this year.

bmaples writes:

BTW -- agree completely about keeping the camera out of the locker room. Too much focus on the coach and not enough on the players. I love Pat like family, but she needs to tell ESPN that halftime is a private discussion.

Bruce in Louisville

GeneralNeyland96redux writes:

Mike,

We thank you for imparting your tremendous wisdom upon us. We aren't worthy of such greatness and we would like to invite you to take your message on to a greater audience.

In short, leave us the hell alone!!!

keepitreal4vols writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Stay classy kid.

donniedem writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mike, as far as taunting, all I got to say is Diana Tarausi. But I have little else to say to you...except...Yes, Geno is an as.hole and he doesn't have the class that Pat Summitt has and never will. But I will admit it freely...UCONN is the best program in College basketball, women, heck maybe even men. If they win this eigth title, and they should, they will replace UT as the best in the history of the game..IMO. I am a devoted Lady Vols fan and I will draw flack for saying what I just said, but it's true IMO. So go away and enjoy your team's success and have more class than to rub it in the wound when it is exposed. You know things do change. Will UConn stay as the best ever? I don't know. Pat is capable of winning championships in the future and maybe she will. But you know as I do that it takes a special on the court leader to win titles...You guys have had Maya the last four years and she is the difference. Will the next leader be from UConn or Tenn, or maybe someplace else...We will see. I congratulate the Irish on a game well plahyed and wish them well. To the Lady Vols...keep your heads up...It could be all yours next year..Go Lady Vols!

uconnfan1 writes:

in response to Mike_In_Connecticut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I wanted to see UCONN & UT so bad but,i guess Tennessee didn't

volaholic45 writes:

Brick, brick, brick, brick, brick, brick - game over.

Plenty of good looks. No one could hit.

CoachFulmerFan writes:

in response to VolinTally:

Don't post much here, but before everyone starts jumping on the players for an incredibly bad performance (and it was), I think the coaching performance was much much worse.

There really didn't seem to be a good offensive game plan. The team's depth was used ineffectively. The seemingly constant rotation didn't allow anyone to get into any type of rhythm. Focus all you want on defense and rebounding, but offense is kind of important too.

Tennessee DOES have a lot of talent, and they ARE as good as everyone believes. Unfortunately, the coaching staff, in my opinion, is the under-performer.

And then we get this ridiculous focus on CPS's halftime rants which, outside of Knoxville, come across as pompous and humorous at best.

So, I love love love the Lady Vols, but how about holding the coaches as accountable as the players.

Agreed. CPS is a great defensive coach, but I couldn't figure out what they were trying to accomplish on offense. It was a jumbled up mess. Makes you wonder how some of these players were Mcdonald's All Americans. Maybe CPS needs to drop Lockwood and bring in a coach who actually knows how to coach a half court offensive set. The phooey that was out there tonight was pitiful to watch.

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