DAYTON, Ohio — Tennessee coach Pat Summitt couldn’t resist looking ahead to her next team as she analyzed this team’s failed finale Monday night at University of Dayton Arena.
“We have one of the best point guards in the country coming in,” Summitt said. “Hopefully, she can show others how to play the game at the highest level.”
Summitt was referring to Ariel Massengale of Bolingbrook, Ill. Her comments followed a lackluster performance by three UT point guards in a 73-59 loss to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Their difficulties were magnified by the sterling play of Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins, who made four of eight 3-point attempts, scored a game-high 24 points and had four assists and four steals.
“She was the best guard on the court. “Summitt said. “She energizes that team, and she was a real force.
“I have a lot of respect for her. She does what she has to do. They have good rhythm on offense because of how she played.”
3-Point Defense: Notre Dame showed why it led the Big East in 3-point defense. It held UT to 4-for-19 shooting (21.1 percent) from behind the arc.
That provided a stunning contrast to UT’s previous 3-point shooting in post-season play, which included three SEC tournament games and three NCAA tournament games.
In those six games, UT made 44 of 91 (48.4 percent) 3-point tries.
Summitt didn’t give Notre Dame’s defense all the credit for the wayward shooting.
“They definitely played good defense,” Summitt said. “But there were times we got so overanxious.
“Meighan was not herself today. I don’t know why. I thought she was overanxious.”
All-Tournament: Forward Shekinna Stricklen was the only UT player named to the Dayton Regional all-tournament team.
Notre Dame players on the team were Diggins, Becca Bruszewski and Natalie Novosel. Samantha Prahalis of Ohio State also made the team. Diggins was named the most outstanding player.
No Tiebreaker: UT missed an opportunity to become the all-time leader in Final Four appearances for men or women.
The Lady Vols’ 18 Final Four appearances have them tied with UCLA and North Carolina on the men’s side.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284.